Hula as a Bedrock of 21st-Century Success
This month, the renowned musical Lim Family of Kohala on the Big Island takes the stage on Nā Mele: Traditions in Hawaiian Song (Mon., Jan. 28, 7:30 pm). We at PBS Hawai‘i have wanted to feature this remarkable ‘ohana for years.
However, it’s not easy to catch the family members in one place for long! They’re often in different parts of the Islands, and in farflung countries, in versatile groups, performing and teaching. Ed Yap, a family musician and husband of fellow performer and kumu hula Nani Lim Yap, is known for his flying fingers, booking and re-booking airline tickets online as plans evolve.
As I interviewed Nani for an upcoming episode of Long Story Short (Tues., Jan. 22, 7:30 pm), I saw once again, with another Island family, that the tradition of hula can serve as a bedrock for modern business success. Nani has long been in demand as a hula teacher in Japan and now, China, for her deep knowledge of this ancient art.
Nani and Ed’s son Manaola Yap, appearing in a Long Story Short encore (Tues., Jan. 15, 7:30 pm) is a young fashion designer and business owner with national and international credentials. “My background in design, and everything I do, comes from hula,” he says.
As a child, he helped his mother stage hula dramas for hotel visitors, creating costumes that helped tell the stories. For a dance honoring Pele, the fire goddess, he says Nani burned all of the edges of the dancers’ fabric “to a crisp.”
Successful father-and-son designers and hula practitioners Sig and Kuha‘o Zane of Hilo, Hawai‘i Island, also credit hula with inspiring and sustaining their aloha shirt business. For Sig, it started decades ago with wanting to make a special gift to court his future wife, seventh-generation kumu hula Nālani Kanaka‘ole. Sig learned silk screening and created plant designs, because in hula, many plant forms are important. Like Manaola, he had no formal design or business training.
Ulalia Woodside, Executive Director of the Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i, oversees 40,000 acres of preservation lands. She grew up in Waimānalo, Windward O‘ahu, learning the discipline and interconnectedness of the hula tradition. She says it forged her view of how to live life and how to carry out her work.
“(Hula) is about the collective,” she says, “it is about recognizing that together, we produce something that is amazing.”