Polynesian Cultural Center sets 2011 hula events in motion


Laie, Hawaii – This January, the fragrance of fresh flower lei and melodies of ancient Hawaii will fill the air as some of the world’s most gifted hula dancers and halau (schools) come together for the Polynesian Cultural Center’s (PCC) 21st Annual Moanikeala Hula Festival. Halau from Hawai’i and Japan will captive the crowd with their graceful arrangements.

Hawaii’s first hula event of the year, the Moanikeala Hula Festival will be held on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in PCC’s Pacific Theater.

The festival first began as a keiki (children) hula competition and has since evolved into a premiere hoike (exhibition) that welcomes dancers of all ages to take the stage. Each January, this hoike showcases and preserves hula traditions while honoring the memory of Aunty Sally Moanikeala Wood Naluai, PCC’s first kumu hula (hula teacher). Aunty Sally trained numerous PCC students, from the center’s opening in 1963 to her retirement in 1980. She continued to work with the PCC as a consultant until she passed away in 2000. Aunty Sally’s legacy can still be seen today as many of the kumu who participate in the festival were once her students.

“Aunty Sally was an amazing kumu hula who touched the hearts of many, not only in Hawaii, but throughout Polynesia, the Pacific and the world,” said Ellen Gay Dela Rosa, PCC’s theater director and Aunty Sally’s niece. “Her legacy lives on through the kupuna (elders) and keiki who grace the stage each year to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture.”