Kauai Polynesian Festival Set For May 26 - 29

Dawna Robertson When Hula Master “Uncle” Joe Kahaulelio began a Kauai tradition of celebrating Polynesian dance some 20 years ago, the focus was mainly on Hawaiian hula - the ancient “Kahiko” style and the more modern “Auwana” style. In 2000, Kapu Kinimaka-Alquiza took over and broadened the venue becomin

By: Dawna Robertson

When Hula Master “Uncle” Joe Kahaulelio began a Kauai tradition of celebrating Polynesian dance some 20 years ago, the focus was mainly on Hawaiian hula - the ancient “Kahiko” style and the more modern “Auwana” style. In 2000, Kapu Kinimaka-Alquiza took over and broadened the venue becoming director of the Kauai Polynesian Festival. In doing so, she knew she had become the bearer of a long and proud heritage of Polynesian dance.

An expert in Hawaiian hula, Kinimaka-Alquiza felt perfectly at ease teaching and judging both styles for the festival. After all, she’d been dancing for nearly five decades and had learned from Kauai dance masters like “Uncle.”

When Kinimaka-Alquiza decided to expand the dance styles featured in the hula-focused festival, her desire was to expose locals and visitors alike to the cultures that have evolved in the geographic triangle known as Polynesia - an area that runs from Easter Island to Hawaii to New Zealand, and includes all cultures within.

To achieve authenticity, Kinimaka-Alquiza hired some of Hawaii’s best dance teachers from places like the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu’s North Shore, where all facets of Polynesian culture had been on display since the 1960s.

The result can be witnessed Fifth Annual Kauai Polynesian Festival, scheduled for May 26 - 29. From the hip-shaking Tahitian style complete with feathered headdress to the graceful hula of Hawaii, today’s Kauai Polynesian Festival boasts some of the most powerful Polynesian dance.

“It’s so authentic that audiences often think they’ve traveled back in time to the days of first contact between Polynesia and the West,” said Kinimaka-Alquiza.

Festivities kick off Thursday, May 26, at 6:00pm at the Radisson Kauai Beach Resort near Lihue. Pulsating Polynesian dance will be performed by experts in the traditional style of the islands, complete with authentic costumes, music and royal ceremonial protocol. The evening event will also include a lavish buffet dinner.

“Every one of the styles is really different,” she noted. “You could probably go somewhere to see Polynesian dance, but you could never get what Kauai can offer - the hospitality, the most green foliage in the state and the tropical scents. And it all takes place outdoors under the sun by day and stars by night.”

Tickets are $8 at the gate each day, or $15 for all three days. All early morning workshops are $15 each. The opening dinner on May 26 is $50, and includes entertainment, buffet and beverage.

e-mail: petah@verizon.net

(808) 335-6466

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