UPDATE for Merrie Monarch 2017: Please support Ke Kai O Kahiki with fundraising!
Sugar Cane Culture Club is honored to be collaborating with Ke Kai O Kahiki (The Seas Of The Ancestral Lands). Ke Kai O Kahiki is a mens’ Hula Halau (Dance group) based in Waianae, Oahu of the Hawaiian Islands. In the past and under the direction of Kumu Hula (Source of Dance) O’Brian Eselu, Ke Kai O Kahiki demonstrated a strong Performance record in the Merrie Monarch Festival, also known as the Olympics for Hula. Ke Kai O Kahiki placed first for the kane Division five times and also first for the Overall Festival four times in the past 15 years of Performance.
In this 2009 Video, the Halau performs to the mele (chant): Tu ‘Oe; the ka’i (opening step): Paka Mai Ana Ka La Ma Puna; and the Ho’i (closing step): Ho’i E, Ho’i La, Ho’i I Kalani E. Some of the top comments include, 907valleygirl’s “Real men Dance Hula!!!,” and aggie leaupepe’s “Ke Kai O Kahiki are the best… O’Brian is truly gifted, and it’s awesome they won this!”
Unexpectedly Kumu O’Brian passed away in 2012. Now under the direction of a former front line dancer, Kumu La’akea Perry. The kane of the halau, as mentioned in 2015 Hawaii News Now interview, say their former Hula brother and now Kumu keeps O’Brian’s legacy thiving and alive.
As recently as 2014, Ke Kai O Kahiki performed for the Aloha Concert at Carnegie Hall. U’ilani Japan Inc./U’ilani Productions, Inc. presented this Concert. This Performance took place on Thursday 29. May 2014, 20:00 on Ronald O. Perelman Stage in Isaac Stern Auditorium.
In the Video below, Kumu La’akea is interviewed at Lanikuhonua, the Leeward Oahu property where the halau practices.
‘Ai ha’a (deep bent knee) is the style of Dance the halau performs. This is seen in the Video below where the pa’u (wrapped skirt made of raffia) hovers above the stage. This hula style is punishing and requires intensive Training, which includes climbing coconut trees. Makepa, photographed in Feature Image (and link to hula performance of Kauo Pu Ka ‘Iwa Kala Pahe’e), mentioned that “In times when you’re dying and your legs are about to fall apart and you’re on fire–you go to give that extra bit of more effort to stay with it and pull through. Not only for you, you’re doing it for your Brothers, too.”
Here’s a recent Facebook comment posted by Heather to Ke Kai O Kahiki on 15. January 2016: I so wish I could tavel to Wai’anea to see and meet you all in person. I first saw y’all perform Tu’ Oe on the video where the dancers wore yellow. From then on I was hooked on your dance group. The gentleman in the loin cloth and the one that was to his right in the video, and the one that was behind him who took the lead. Those three got my hot Italian blood goin’. Damn! Y’all are awesome and very sexy! Please keep goin’ on your craft and don’t stop with the Videos; it may be the only way I get to see you. Thank you so much for the entertainment.
Reply by Ke Kai O Kahiki: Thanks for supporting our group. The appreciation of our hula performances is accepted with much gratitude. We will post much more videos in the future. Mahalo!
Reply by Heather: Does La’akea Perry still dance with the group?
Reply by Ke Kai O Kahiki: This is Laakea. I have taken over the group as of April 2012 when our founder passed away.
Reply by Heather: A few weeks ago was when I saw my first video of the your group doin’ the Tu’ Oe (the one i mentioned above). You were the one that stood out the most to me. I started searching for more videos to watch and started researching hula and its orgins. I also noticed that in more videos recently you where chanting instead of O’Brian Eselu. It wasn’t until 3 nights ago that I saw that he has passed. Watching the videos of the news report of his passing I found myself getting teary eyed for you all. He was a true innovator of your style of male hula. Watching you Dance, I felt that you are a strong dancer; Ke Kai O Kahiki could not have been or could be in better hands. Ok, honest Moment, I do have a little crush on you. Lol. I do hope that I can see more new video of you dancing and if not I’ll have my ear tuned to your wonderful chant. You’re outstanding; keep it up. Btw, I’ve be come a true fan of Ke Kai O Kahiki.
Reply by Ke Kai O Kahiki: Thank you for your kind words. I do my best to serve the group in any way that is needed. Right now, I must put aside my dancing and lead as Kumu. Before O’Brian passed away ,he said that I have a lot more years of dancing left in me and that my dancing will be done in a different capacity….in a different setting. For now, I will continue to fill his big shoes as best as I can. Mahalo for your support.
Reply by Heather: The more I watch, it really makes me wish and want to travel to Wai’anae to come see y’all in Person.
The above Video is from the Red Bull BV One World Dance Competition. Ke Kai O Kahiki closed the Show with Ke Ahi Alapa Kukula Ula I Ka Lani, breaking barriers and sharing Hula in a new light…
Currently, Ke Kai O Kahiki is fundraising for the 2016 Merrie Monarch Festival. Their fundraisers include succulent food, heart-pounding entertainment, a delicious bake sale and raffle. These are their upcoming events:
Fundraiser-Merrie Monarch 2016: 5. March 2016, 11am-2pm at Paradise Cove, Luau Gardens, O’ahu
Merrie Monarch Festival: 1.-2. April 2016 at Hilo, Hawai’i
9th Annual Grow Hawaii Festival: 23 April 2016 at Bishop Museum, O’ahu
We continue to develop rewards, so check back to bring the HANA HOU Hawaii Festival to Zurich, Switzerland AND also Support this Hula halau as they prepare to the Olympics of Hula at the 2016 Merrie Monarch Festival.