Do not for a minute think that the spirit of Aloha is something fabricated by the Hawaii tourist industry or that the spirit of Aloha was lost forever with the coming of Captain Cook. In an age of Postmodern Theory where all meaning can be challenged or are treated with skepticism I submit that the spirit of Aloha (affection, peace, compassion and mercy) not only thrives within communities in Hawaii, it is nurtured and cultivated here on the mainland. While the Hula community in Los Angeles may be invisible to the mainstream, make no mistake, it is a major force in the lives of many Angelino men, women and children- if you have any doubts be sure to come to the Aratani World Series on February 13th.
The study of Hula (refers to total art form including movement, music, and poetry) is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Not limited to those with Hawaiian blood Kumu Hula (masters of Hawaiian dance and chant) teach their haumana (students) a way of being in harmony with this world. That is, the study of Hula is a physical way to absorb and integrate Hawaiian philosophy, values, and spirituality. As a student of western dance my study and practice was principally of technique and composition. Never did we discuss aspects of love, nature, ancestors, history, or the importance of community. The dance class was never referred to as an ohana (family). This may be one reason why I hold the practitioners of Hula in such high regard.
Hula is a way finding beauty within one’s self, to be in harmony with sister, brother, aunt and uncle. Hula teaches respects our elders, the forces of nature, the legacy of the past, and for the carrier of knowledge, the Kumu. Hula is not an ego centered experience or expression, rather it is a collective force that unites, empowers and expands one’s sense of selfhood. The beauty aspired to is not only external physical beauty, but an emanation of self knowledge and self respect that can bring beauty and radiance into the world and to those who witness the dance.
As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Halau* Keali’i O Nalani, we will bear witness to the profound and constant labor of love of this remarkable Kumu. We also honor the Hula lineage that has guided him to this moment see photo of parents Al and Cissylani Ceballos above. Kumu Keali’i is honored as teacher and carrier of knowledge on the Islands, here on the mainland, as well as Japan and Mexico. If anyone seeks his help, he is always willing to be of service. I can give testimony to his generous and tireless spirit. I have known Keali’i Ceballos for some twenty years from the time he came to help us with the first World Festival of Sacred Music in 1999 as the Kumu Hula Association of So Cal performed for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and 18,000 others.
Keali’i has taught thousands of haumana over the years and each individual carries away the core values of Hawaii and Aloha. When you come to see his 25th Anniversary Concert on February 13, 2016 at the Aratani World Series, a cast of 100 dancers will pay homage to the ancestors who established this culture of dignity and depth, they will embody the culture of Hawaii as it is understood not only by Hawaiians but by people all over the world, and in a time when our planet is at such risk, they will pay homage and respect to the powers of nature. We honor you Keali’i and wish you many more years of Hula.
*Halau literally means “a branch from which many leaves grow”