Yesterday Kekuhi Keali‘ikanaka‘oleohaililani told the story of the goddess Hi‘iaka’s first hula—and when Kekuhi herself is in the forest, she says, her own experience hasn’t changed much from what Hi‘iaka expressed. Kekuhi describes the way the natural world awakens the senses—how the coming of the mist or the play of the ‘apapane birds or the loftiness of the trees can spark a state of awe so powerful that it is instinctively expressed in the movement of the body through hula and the power of the voice through oli.
“Aloha ‘āina is not just a feeling for the concept. In terms of chant and dance, it’s really embodying that which feeds the art, and that’s the natural surroundings. There is no art without the mist people or the forest people or the ocean people or the river people. Aloha ‘āina is not just an act of conservation but it’s also letting your spirit and therefore your movement be impassioned by the very fact that the movement of our relatives in nature can spontaneously spark a movement in you before you even think about it. To me that’s the core of aloha ‘āina when it comes to hula and chant.”