Ancient Hawaiian traditions say the art form of hula dancing was started on the western end of the island of Molokai. Legends say that a woman named La’ila’i settled on Molokai and she brought with her the art of dance.
For five generations she kept the hula dance a secret, passing it down only to her family members. During the fifth generations of descendants a girl named Laka was born. She became known as the goddess of hula because she traveled to the neighboring islands and taught the dance to others.
Each hula movement, while beautiful in its own right, conveys a sacred or spiritual meaning and brings to life the history and traditions of the Hawaiian people.
On Molokai a modern Hula school (known as a Halau) was formed sixty years ago. The school teaches the art form to all who are interested without any cost to the students. Once each year, the school travels to a foreign country to share their art with other people, cultures and other Halau (hula schools).
Each February the Moana Hula Halau holds a fundraiser dinner and dance performance (under a large Banyan tree / oceanside). Proceeds from the fundraiser allow the school to continue to be free to everyone and also pays for the group’s travel. The costumes are lavish and elaborate, sewn with Aloha by local volunteers. The event includes dinner, and is held in the open air under an age old banyan tree on the grounds of what used to be a hotel near the center of Kaunakakai.
The 2017 fundraiser included the local hula school, plus a Halau from Japan and a men’s hula group from Maui. In October, Molokai’s Moana Hula Halau will travel to New Zealand to share their art with the people there.