Alexandria, Va.— Halau Ho’omau I ka Wai Ola O’ Hawai’i, the Virginia-based troupe that has entertained local audiences for more than a decade will once again honor the inauguration of the 44th president with the performance of a mele inoa, or name song accompanied by hula at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian’s ‘Out of Many” multi-cultural festival. Performances are scheduled at 2:00 p.m., January19 and 20, in the museum’s Rasmuson Theater.
The name chant, Hiki Maila Ke Ali’i Ho’oulu, talks of a “child of Hawaii destined to lead” concluding, “May the wisdom of the ancestors and the sands of your birth be the torch to light the way.” The name song will be interpreted through the art form of hula by the cultural school’s dancers.
“This oli (chant) was composed as a special gift to our country’s first Hawaii-born leader,” said Kumu Hula Manu Ikaika, the halau’s leader. “Barack Obama represents the diversity that makes Hawaii so special and that makes our country unique.”
In Hawaiian culture, there is a strong oral tradition called a mele inoa, or name chant; the most famous ones are composed for Hawaiian kings and have been passed down for generations. According to Honolulu’s Bishop Museum, a “mele inoa is a name chant composed in honor of a person and a gift that will remain for generations to come.”
Ikaika, schooled by some of Hawaii’s best known cultural icons, said, “The multi-cultural festival at the Smithsonian’s NMAI is a celebration of the second inauguration of President Obama and of our nation’s great diversity.”
“Barack Obama’s presidency opened the White House to people of all backgrounds, to all Americans,” said Ikaika. “This inaugural weekend, we celebrate our diversity and embrace the tremendous value it brings to our country.”
The musicians and dancers of the halau come from diverse cultural backgrounds and live in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC.
In honor of the presidential inauguration, the museum hosts this festival featuring music, dance, and storytelling. The program will highlight cultures that originally hail from all over the globe, but that are thriving in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.
“Hawaiian culture is alive and flourishing right here in Washington DC,” said Ikaika. “Observing cultural traditions and creating new traditions is an important way to perpetuate and share our culture.”
Kumu Hula Manu Ikaika is a composer and choreographer of Hawaiian music and dance, a skilled artisan of Hawaiian crafts and an accomplished musician, proficient at bass, slack key, and steel guitar, ukulele, drums, Tahitian drums, and the ancient Hawaiian instruments of the ipu heke (double gourd), ohe hano ihu (nose flute), and pahu (sacred drum).
Halau Ho’omau I ka Wai Ola O Hawai’i, which means “through hula and halau, we remain young at heart and full of life,” is dedicated to perpetuating Hawaiiana in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Halau Ho’omau’s performances in the Washington metropolitan area include the Kamehameha Day Ceremony at Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, Presidential Inaugural Parades, the Washington Monument, the National Theatre, the Smithsonian Institution Museum, the Kennedy Center, the Barns at Wolf Trap, and the Birchmere.
The performances are free of charge and open to the public. For more information, visit www.halau.org