By Community Reviewer Allan Okubo
Hula is the universe! Kumu Hula is the sun! Should the sun cease to exist, there will be extinction or rebirth!
In iHula, now playing at Kumu Kahua Theatre, Kumu (Kahana Ho) presides over a troop of young students, one of which is her granddaughter, Iwapono (Anette Aga), who is rebellious and resistant to the idea she may be the successor of the hālau. Bitterness over her mom’s drug use and abandonment permeates her life, so she pushes instead of embracing the safety and structure of her hula world. Her fellow dancers consist of different ethnicities, Pumehana (Lelea’e “Buffy” Kahalepuna Wong), Jen (Jaime Bradner), and Kanani (Katja Berthold), who mix and scratch to bring hula to life for themselves and the hālau. Tension erupts among themselves, and between Kumu and Iwapono, and their universe heads toward extinction.
The confrontation comes to a head with the passing of Kumu when reality sets in after Iwapono has been passed the torch. The bridges broken before needs mending and only the strength and love of hula can bring them together. As the wounds heal, the sun rises once more and the universe continues.
Ryan “Oki” Okinaka’s first play meshes out the humor, struggle, anger and enjoyment achieved through perseverance and the love of something, in this case hula. Beautiful dancing throughout the play enhances the story and punctuates the words with flowing movement, masterfully choreographed by Nathan Okinaka, Kumu Hula of Hula Hālau Kawailehua. Wonderful set (Bulldog), costumes (Carlynn Wolfe), sound (Matthew Mazella) and lighting (Cora Yamagata) brings the stage to life. All this brought together by the deft hand of director Harry Wong III.
Commit to what you love, and enjoy the journey, and look forward to the sun raising each day. iHula… ILovedit! Call KKT at 536-4441 for tickets or go online to: kumukahua.org.