Hula at Kalani

Hula is the language of the heart and therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people.
- David Kalākaua, King of Hawaii (1874 to 1891)

hula on the lanai

Hula is the Hawaiian art of movement, dance, and storytelling. Hula began as a form of sacred devotion and became a key part of religious and cultural expression. Because the ancient Hawaiians had no written form of the language, hula and mele (chant) were the primary means through which history, myth, and culture were passed down from generation to generation.

Missionaries who came to Hawaii in the early 19th century suppressed the hula, denouncing it as a heathen practice. However, in the later part of the century, King David Kalākaua, known as the Merrie Monarch, reinstated the practice of hula. A renaissance of Hawaiian culture bloomed thereafter and has continued ever since.

Hula is rooted in the mele (chant) or song - each movement in a hula has a meaning correlating to the mele so that the dancer(s) becomes an expression of the story that is being told. Hula is typically divided into two broad categories: kahiko (ancient or tradititional) and 'auana (modern).

Hula kahikoHula Kahiko

Hula kahiko, or ancient hula, refers to traditional forms of hula as it was practiced before contact with the West. Performers wear traditional costumes and are accompanied by chant and percussion instruments.

hula auanaHula 'Auana

Hula 'auana, or modern hula, incorporates Western musical influences such as melody, harmony, and the use of stringed instruments that were introduced to Hawaii by the West. Costumes are also accordingly more modern.

Hula Offerings at Kalani

Weekly Hula Classes

Each week, Kalani offers hula classes to guests and members of the community. Two classes, Basic Hula and Advanced Hula, are offered on Tuesday evenings. (Please see our weekly schedule for times and location.) Hula classes are usually taught by Heritage Instructor, Duane “Kuane’Omea” Cariaga, and occasionally by Kalani founder, Richard Koob.

Annual Hula Heritage Week

Each year, Kalani spends the week leading up to the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival celebrating Hawaiian culture in all its forms. Throughout the week, participants learn traditional songs, chants, myths, crafts, language, uses of local plants, and of course, hula.

The later part of the week is spent attending the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival's ceremonies, performances and competitions at the Edith Kanakaole Stadium in Hilo and culminates in a spectacular finale performance held at Kalani where participants will share all they have learned. See more detail about this year's festivities HERE.

About Duane “Kuane’Omea” Cariaga

Jonathan "Kimo" Lopez

Duane was born in Ka’u, Hawaii on the Big Island.  He started off dancing hula in high school.  In 2005, he joined a Halau under the direction of Kumu Hula Ehulani Stephany. After mastering the dance, chants, and protocols of Hula, Duanne was blessed to have Uniki (graduated) as a Alaka’i (assistant Kumu) in 2012.  Although hula is his passion, Kuane’Omea is a master in lei making and loves shoreline fishing off the coastline of Puna. 

Duane has had the pleasure of teaching hula to over 300 elementary kids for over 10 years in San Francisco,as well as to a dance academy in Chicago. 

He now enjoys being part of the Kalani team and teaching hula to guests, volunteers and people in the nearby neighborhood. 

“I am honored to be a part of Kalani Honua as a hula instructor," says Duane. "My goal is to share my knowledge that I was taught by my Kumu Hula and to help perpetuate our precious Hawaii Culture.  Everyone is welcome to my hula class."  

E Komo Mai.