One of Hawaii’s most iconic fashion designers, Manaola Yap, alongside award winning Hula Halau Manaola under the direction of his mother, Kumu Hula Nani Lim Yap, starred during the 2021 Hula Bowl halftime show segment that was directed by Hilo native Tracey Niimi.
This year marked the game’s 75th edition at Aloha Stadium, showcasing 100 of the nation’s best college football seniors.
“Even though we’re not able to have a live halftime show this year, my wife saw an opportunity and it made so much sense to have Manaola share his story about what hula means to him during the Hula Bowl,” said Rich Miano, executive director of the Hula Bowl. “We couldn’t be more excited to share what has been created.”
As a native Hawaiian hula practitioner, Yap narrated a poetic monologue on what hula means to him while Hula Halau Manaola performed “A Koaʻekea I Pueohulunui” during which Yap is shown chanting with his mother, Kumu Hula Nani Lim Yap, by his side.
“Everyone in hula has their own perspective on what hula is so I wanted to respect that and share what hula is to me through what I was taught while growing up,” said Yap. “Around the world, the view of what Hula is, has been … different. This halftime show is about taking back that cultural narrative and helping the audience to experience the true meaning, essence, and power that hula is.”
Niimi assembled a team of local video producers to film the segment at the Kahilu Theater in Waimea.
“I think we all felt that weight of responsibility to our community to create a piece that not only properly represented the Hawaiian culture, but was a piece that our entire state would be proud of sharing with the rest of our country,” said Niimi.