Hawaii Rooted: Building a Hula Legacy

Kumu Hula Leinaala Jardin and her halau prepare for a special hoike performance on the island of Kauai.

Leinaala was born and raised on Kauai. For her, hula has always been a life-long journey. After studying hula with Auntie Lovey Apana on Kauai and master Kumu Hula Ray Fonseca in Hilo, she started her own halau (hula school). She began by teaching kupuna (elders) at a Kauai senior center. Decades later, her halau has over 200 students ranging from age three to age 89.

Her halau participates in the Merrie Monarch Festival each year – the most prestigious hula competition in Hawaii.

Before a competition, Leinaala’s halau does a water ritual, or “hiuwai.” She explains that Hawaiians believe water gives life, and is cleansing. Before any major event, her halau cleanses to when they take the stage, their ready to connect with the mele (songs) of the old and deliver these stories in its purest form.

She describes to her students that they have to look at themselves like a school of fish, who stick together and journey together. The bond you find in the halau is hard to forget or replace, and it requires the whole group delivering the same story.

Discover more of Leinaala’s #HawaiiRooted story at https://www.gohawaii.com/hawaii-rooted/Leinaala-Jardin

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