Hula Ready For Merrie Monarch

With mere weeks left until the Merrie Monarch Festival, our designer and  his ‘ohana ready Hālau Manaola for their second year of competition. For months they have dedicated themselves to rigorous practices under strict hula discipline to perfect their performances on the world-famous stage. Manaola shares his insights into the hālau’s hula regimen and what we can expect from the Kohala wāhine at the Merrie Monarch Festival 2017.

When did Merrie Monarch training begin for Hālau Manaola & how does it differ from routine practices throughout the year?
January started our 4-month training. The difference from routine practices are the content of the practices and that they are stricter, which require more commitment and conditioning.

How would you describe Hālau Manaola’s signature style?
Manea, an elevated style that requires dancers to tread on the ball of the feet. It comes from ‘Iolani Luahine and is evident in all of our dances.

What are the infamous Merrie Monarch “fact sheets”?
Fact sheets are one of the most important elements in explaining your presentation to the judging panel. Fact sheets give them insight to understanding the artistic vision of the kumu–the choreography, cadence, melody, chanting style, historical references (including maps and genealogy) as well as an explanation on costume and adornments. Fact sheet also help give the judges insight into the foot and hand gestures because kumu hula come from different traditions so it gives you an opportunity to explain what line of tradition the content of your presentation is coming from. Fact sheets can be 30+ pages which require months of research to compile.

What does kapu during Merrie Monarch mean to you?
Kapu during Merrie Monarch represents sacrifice and commitment, giving yourself completely to the dances and hālau. It also requires dancers to sustain their mana to its fullest capacity without any defilement–understanding your focus and making sure that your spiritual energy is at its purest, fullest potential. Things that help lessen distractions from the 
focus of hula are abstaining from are sexual contact, alcohol and specific foods like banana, he’e, kō (sugar cane) which also have double meanings. For example, he’e means to slip, so we avoid eating he’e during this time.

How does Hālau Manaola’s training differ from last year?
Every year has its own levels of discipline according to the mele, plot, dance style and content. This changes the training regimen to transform the womens physical, mental and spiritual body. They have gone through vigorous cardio workouts this year to build stamina as our mele is based the elements and is on a faster cadence than last year.

What inspired you and your mother (Kumu Nani) for the dancer’s mele this year?
The ‘auana is one of our favorite, classic songs that we love. In light of my tūtū’s (Mary Ann Lim) passing it is especially important to our ‘ohana that we honor her through these mele in our performances this year.

Photos by Vision Horse Media for The Wall Street Journal 2016

Auē ke aloha nui ē…

Auē ke aloha nui ē…

On behalf of our MANAOLA ʻohana, we would like to extend our profound aloha to the Lim ʻohana on the passing of their beloved matriarch, tūtū Mary Ann Lim, who celebrated her 81st birthday last week.

We are so grateful to have been graced by her mana and inspired by her leadership as an icon in the Hawaiian music industry whose legacy continues through the extraordinary artistry of her ʻohana.

Lei Ana O Kohala is a beautiful mele written by Manaola for his grandmother and the fragrant puakenikeni blossoms that will forever remind us of her sweetness.

“Lei ana O Kohala I ka lei ha’aheo he lei ho’oheno nō.”
Kohala is adorned in its lei of pride the Puakenikeni, the lei indeed cherished by us all

San Francisco Chronicle: Hawaiian Culture Inspires Manaola Yap Couture

San Francisco Chronicle: Hawaiian Culture Inspires Manaola Yap Couture
by Leilani Marie Labong

Rare is the gift of waxing poetic about your work, at least to the extent that Hawaiian designer Manaola Yap can carry on.

But Yap’s rhapsodies seem to be a reflection less of his ego than his reverence for Hawaii and its native art forms. As a lifelong student of hula (his mother is a well-known Hawaiian-song chanteuse and kumu, or teacher of hula) and daily paddler (canoeing has been a Hawaiian tradition since A.D. 200), Yap has been gathering inspiration for his clothing line, Manaola Hawaii, for as long as he can remember.

Known for his “sacred geometry,” Yap interprets the landscape and flora of the islands with strong tribal motifs that he emblazons on effortless silhouettes with hand-carved bamboo stamps.



“We adorn our bodies with clothes that will enhance and protect our spirit,” says Yap, who learned how to create kapa — Hawaiian textiles made from pounded tree bark — from artisans in his family.

From performers with Hawaii in their blood to those with Hawaii in their heart, the Bay Area hosts a rainbow of artistry. Here are some reasons to visit.

The Nanaka print, for instance, is derived from the bumpy hull of ulu, or breadfruit, a staple of the Hawaiian diet that represents growth and abundance. Look for this print on the new Hilo dress, transformable into a few different looks, depending on where you tie the knot.

The Niho Kū pattern, a repeating series of triangles, was inspired by the jagged lava rocks on the Kohala coast of Hawaii Island, from where Yap hails (though these days he makes his home on Oahu). It can be seen on everything from restaurant napkins and spa linens at the new Four Seasons Ko Olina, where Yap is a cultural ambassador, to leather stiletto heels.

“The first of their kind in Hawaiian fashion history,” says Yap, whose fall-winter 2016 collection — featuring women’s rayon bomber jackets, men’s jogger pants, and even western-style shirts in an autumnal palette that ranges from mustard to potter’s clay — can be found exclusively at Hula Lehua in Ala Moana Center.

“I’m always trying to push the envelope.”