Saturday, August 23, 2008

Akalā Neves

While in Hilo this past July, I had the extraordinary chance to attend a luau where the honoree was a young girl named Akalā Neves. This luau was not the usual luau as it included a lengthy hula program that served as Akalā's 'ūniki (for translations of the Hawaiian words, go to this link here). Her father is a very well known kumu (teacher) hula in Hilo and this hula graduation excercise was Akalā’s rite of passage into becoming a kumu hula herself.

Akalā is an incredible and intense young woman. She is on her way to college now and I know she will do amazing things with her life. Her name is poetic in itself; translating roughly to mean the pinkish sky that appears before the sun rises.

The following images are from this special luau. The moon was full that night and the energy of the singing and dancing and the presence of all the guests was something to behold.

These are ipus which are made from large gourds. They are used as a percussion instrument.

Some of the dancers "backstage" getting ready and some last minute instructions.

This is the name of Akalā's halau and the banner that was made for her.

Part of the requirement of becoming a kumu hula is to make your own instrument. This is what Akalā made: a pahu or drum. She named it, "Ho'oheno" which means to love, to cherish.

There was a good handful of women who were really decked up; this woman is a perfect example. I really would've loved to have photographed all of them, but I felt intrusive as it was asking permission to take this picture.

The procession of dancers at the start of the hula program.

Akalā dancing. She is an amazing dancer and performer.

Her eyes is what I wanted to capture as it speaks of her intensity, her passion for what she does.

Her incredible parents dancing for her. How proud they must be!


smith kaich jones said...

I love these pictures. I'm having trouble getting all the words to come up - internet weirdness I guess - & you may have actually mentioned this, but I was wondering how old this young lady is? For a moment some words flickered on my screen & I thought I saw something about college? How long does one study for this?
(Inquiring minds want to know!)

:) Debi

laurel said...

That looks like an incredible ceremony and to be able to watch it live.


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