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Fall Fun: Fall Into Hawaiian Culture

Hawaiian Hula Festival features music, dance, workshops and luau.

Hawaiian dance, food, culture and heritage will all be on display, Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 21-23, during the Princess Ka’iulani Hula Festival at Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University.

The three-day event is presented by the Kea Foundation Inc. and master hula teacher Paul Neves and includes dancers from his Fairfax hula school, Hálau Ha'a Kea o Mokihana, plus a dramatic presentation, workshops, silent auction, craft fair and luau.

“Our school is almost five-years old, but this festival is our first major event, except for the International Children’s Festival at Wolf Trap and the Reston Multicultural Festival,” said hula teacher Dana Pua'enaokala Dias. “This is monumental, and we’ve been practicing for it for a year.”

Neves founded this hula school and others to teach students Hawaiian culture through a study of its national dance, the hula. The upcoming festival is intended to honor and celebrate the legacy of Hawaii’s beloved Princess Ka’iulani who loved her country and her people. She lived from 1875-99, and as a young, native woman, she defied the overwhelming odds of her day and spoke out for what she believed was right.

Besides the Fairfax hálau students, the festival will include hula students from Hilo, Hawaii; San Francisco, Calif.; and Portland, Ore., as well as musicians and artisans from Hawaii. At one point during the Oct. 21 show, 50 performers will be on stage, dancing in unison. The program is as follows:

* Day 1 – “The Shattered Vase” - Thursday, Oct. 21, Northern Virginia Community College, Ernst Cultural Center, Annandale; ceremony, 6:30 p.m.; event, 7 p.m. A dramatic presentation of the life of Princess Ka'iulani of Hawaii through music, song and dance. Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door. (Not recommended for children under 8).

* Day 2 - Hó'ike 'Ekahi - Friday, Oct. 22, Ernst Cultural Center, ceremony, 6:30 p.m.; event, 7 p.m. The first hula recital of Hólau Ha'a Kea o Mokihana of Fairfax – A presentation of ancient and contemporary hula dances which, said Dias, will “touch your heart and take your breath away.” Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door.

* Day 3 - Workshops and Luau - Saturday, Oct. 23, George Mason University:

* Hawaiian Cultural Workshops - Robinson Hall, two sessions, morning and afternoon. Workshop costs are $10, students with IDs from any school; $20, general public.

Workshop descriptions, times and registration are at www.pkhula.org. Attendees may enroll in one workshop per session. Space is limited and registration at the door is subject to availability.

* Pa'ina La Hanau no Ka'iulani – Dewberry Hall. Hawaiian birthday feast and hula dancers from Hawaii in honor of Princess Ka'iulani. Doors open, 4:30 p.m.; dinner, 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door; children 10 and under, $10.

The menu includes: tropical fruit, grilled vegetable kabobs, Kalua pig, potato rolls, Chicken Long Rice, Lomi Lomi Salmon, Waipio Poi, Opihi (a Hawaiian shellfish), steamed rice, Haupia (coconut pudding) cups and cake.

Discounted tickets are available for the Thursday and Friday performances. If four or more tickets are purchased, the cost per person is $10 until Oct. 10. For more information and to purchase tickets to all or any of the festival days, go to www.PKHula.org or call 703-401-9129 or 703-975-1621.

The Fairfax hula school has about 25 students, ages 6-70; most are teen-age girls from the Fairfax-Vienna area. Classes for various talent levels are Sundays, 1-4 p.m., at the Center for Ballet Arts, behind Chili’s restaurant on Route 29. Beginning classes are at 1 p.m. and focus on 19 basic hula steps, plus chants. Once students have mastered the basic steps, they learn choreographed dances.

Tuition is $75/month per student, and new students are welcome. Tuition includes all regular classes, as well as master classes with Neves — a direct descendant of King Kamehameha — when he visits. Family discounts are offered. There are six teachers here, and Dias is one of the school’s two lead teachers.

“Some parents take classes with their children,” she said. “For example, my daughters, 12 and 22, are part of the class, and my older daughter is also a teacher.”

Looking forward to the festival, Dias said Neves wrote “The Shattered Vase” to make people aware of what Princess Ka'iulani did and to inspire youth to “take their civic responsibilities seriously and speak out about the issues facing our world today.”

“The festival is going to be fun,” said Dias. “It’ll give people a taste of Hawaiian traditions and culture. They can learn about the princess, experience the beautiful music and dances of Hawaii and enjoy a delicious, Hawaiian meal.”