Celebrating 30 years of hula: A homecoming for Waimea Kumu Hula Michael Pili Pang

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Kumu Hula Michael Pili Pang and Muolaulani will present the Halau Hula Ka Noeau 30th Anniversary Homecoming July 9 at Kahilu Theatre.

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Kumu Hula Michael Pili Pang and Muolaulani will present the Halau Hula Ka Noeau 30th Anniversary Homecoming July 9 at Kahilu Theatre.

Pang will kick off the halau’s yearlong celebration of its milestone anniversary with a 7 p.m. concert at the Waimea theater. Pang formed the halau in 1986 in Waimea, and opened a second halau in Honolulu. During his career, he has graduated 22 kumu hula, who are now teaching in Waimea, Honokaa, Kona, Hilo, Honolulu, Chicago and New York City.

Currently residing on Oahu, Pang moved from Waimea to Honolulu in 2002, to complete his master’s degree at University of Hawaii at Manoa. He became the first kumu hula to receive a master’s degree in fine arts dance, with an emphasis in hula. Immediately after, he was appointed executive director to the City and County of Honolulu Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts by then-Mayor Mufi Hannemann. Pang now runs his halau in Honolulu and is a lecturer at UH teaching Hawaiian dance and chant.

The July 9 concert will be a “homecoming” for Pang and more than 20 of his past students. Hula concerts by Halau Hula Ka Noeau were once an annual event in Waimea that often premiered new dance pieces. These new pieces were then presented in universities and theaters in New York City, New England, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, California, Alaska, Arkansas, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Canada. This concert will also feature the halau of seven of his students, who are now teaching a new generation of hula dancers.

“It’s a little overwhelming to see how hula has touched so many lives,” said Pang, “my intention was to share hula, have fun and teach people to appreciate this cultural art form. I never imagined the halau would grow so many branches.”

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Halau Hula Ka Noeau opened its doors in the summer of 1986 at the Hawaiian Homes Hall. In 1991, Pang built a halau 5 miles outside of Waimea town where his formative work and training of his dancers took place. While Pang no longer conducts classes in Waimea, there are six kumu hula on Hawaii Island that continue his work and will be part of the evening concert. These kumu hula and their halau are: Liana Aviero and Keikilani Curnan (Halau Waiau), Cherise Kealaaumoe Mundon (Halau Hula Kealaaumoe), Lelehua Maunahina Bray (Halau Maunalei), Alva Kaipolei Manu (Halau Manu Lea) and Paahana Roehrig (Halau Kaopua). Joining the cast will also be Kumu Hula June Kaililani Tanoue and her Chicago group (Halau I Ka Pono).

Tickets are $20 and $30. They can be purchased by calling Kahilu Theatre at 885-6868 or by visiting www.kahilutheatre.org. ■