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Nā Mōhai Aloha O Ka Lauaʻe Pā Ola Kapu

Kumu Hula John Kuʻuhoamele Cuban

Aloha e nā haumāna,


Welcome to NĀ MŌHAI ALOHA O KA LAUAʻE PĀ OLA KAPU.  It is our aim to share with you nā mele (songs and chants) and nā hula (dances of Hawaiʻi nei).


In this sharing, you'll also learn genealogy, language, culture, history, customs, mannerisms, legends, prose,poetry, art, and skills besides the songs and the dances. Only through these will the songs and dances become part of you, where you become rich in the appreciation and understanding of these things that are culturally Hawaiian.


Nā Mōhai Aloha: “Mōhai” which usually implies A sacrifice or offering, and of course, it may allude to human sacrifice. However, “mohai” also means burnt offering, and “mōhai aloha” is an offering given freely. Your presence here is a sacrifice of yourself in learning and perpetuating.


O:                    Of


Ka:                  The


Lauaʻe:           A fragrant fern; when crushed its fragrance suggests that of maile, famous for its fragrance on Kauaʻi. Lauaʻe is used in leis of hula, in hula kuahu (alters), and used on Hawaiian material (kapa) to make a perfume scent. Chiefs were known to have lauaʻe rubbed on their maloʻs to make them smell good. Lauaʻe is also called the maile-scented fern and is scientifically known as Phymatosorus scolopendria.


Pā:                  Prefix to many major words with the general meaning of  “in the nature of, having the quality of”


Ola:                 Life, well-being, health, living


Kapu:             Sacred, special privileges, consecrated, prohibit, forbid

Transp Na Mohai Aloha O Ka Lauaʻe Hula Logo.png
Na Hula Ipukui logo-2.png

Nā Hula o Haʻaheo, Kumu John Kuʻuhoamele Cuban © March 4, 2003

'Ano'ano  - "The seedling is planted" This is the entering level for 3 and 4-year-olds. Incompleting this level, students now have a feel for hula, especially the basic feet and handmotions.


Kupu  - "Now it is sprouting'' This is the beginning for the lower age grade level. Incompleting this level, they now understand and appreciate the hula. They know and understandthe basic feet and hand motions. They know their required dances and have anunderstanding of what each hula that they dance to is about. They are now ready toparticipate in the performance of hula.


Mu'o - "The offshoots appear” This is usually the beginning level for the higher age group. In completing this level, they have the same requirements in the kupu level, but at this level, they have a deeper understanding of each hula that they have to know and dance to.

Also, they know the basic disciplines and protocols needed in the training of hula and are ready to participate in the performance of hula.


Liko - "The budding begins" Completing this level, they have the same requirements as the mu'o level, but they are more experienced dancers. They have more experience andprofound knowledge and understanding of the hula and all the dances they know. They not only know the basic discipline and protocol of the hula, like the mu'o, but they are more mature in the execution of their dances. Those who have completed this level have begun to spend much time on the training and performance of hula.


Lālā – “Branching out” They have the same requirements as the liko, but they have a more understanding of all the hula they know, especially in the words of the chant or song. Those who are at this level know a little bit Hawaiian language. They are experienced in the hula and, with more understanding, know how to chant each hula they know. Those that reach this level are called upon to perform “hoʻopaʻa like duties which is chanting for dances with heavier instruments. They must also know basic lei-making techniques and knowledge of making basic hula instruments.


Lau - "Leaves appear” They are like the lālā, but they have a more understanding and knowledge of the hula chants. Through much research, learning, and knowledge of thelanguage, they have much more knowledge of the background of each of the chants and songs they know that pertain to each hula. They know how to make different leis and instruments. Those who complete this level know how to bring out the real feelings andexpressions of the chants and songs in their chanting and dancing of the hula.


Mōhala - "Flowers bloom" They are more experienced and have a deeper knowledge of the hula, whether dancing or chanting it. They know different types of traditional dances and know their modern dances well. Since they know the language and their dances, they can project the exact feeling and expression of each dance. They not only know how to make leis and instruments, but they also know how to make their own costumes and havean idea of the appropriate costumes and leis needed for certain types of hula performances. Those who complete this level are depended upon as alaka'i- leaders whoare able to help the kumu in leading a group in hula and performances.

Kumula'au - "The tree has fully grown" This is the last level of Na Hula o Ha'aheo. In completing this level, they have passed all levels and have a deep knowledge and understanding of the hula traditions and in the chants and dances passed on to them by a kumu (a source). They can illustrate the hula to others and lead a class or group in the execution of the hula and in hula performances. Those who have passed this level really know how to project the essence of the hula., its feelings and expressions, with grace and beauty. Those who have passed this level are ready to be trained and graduate in a traditional 'ūniki huʻelepo- traditional rites of graduation in hula.

St. Louis Hui o Na ʻŌpio, Kumu John Keola Lake © 1988

'Ūniki – Stages of Traditional Hula Graduation Rites


'ŌLAPA     The role of the ʻōlapa or “agile one”, as was fitting, was assigned to the young men and young women who could best illustrate in their persons the grace and beauty of thehuman form. It was theirs, sometimes while singing, to move or pose and gesture in the dance. Sometimes also to punctuate their song and action with the lighter instruments of music.

'ōlapa - refers to those who dedicated themselves to the performance and training in the traditional dances of Hawai'i.

HOʻOPAʻA   The role of the “ho'opa'a or steadfast one”, was given to men and women of greater experience and of more maturity. They handled the heavier instruments and played their parts mostly while sitting or kneeling, marking the time with their instruments. The role of the hoʻopa'a was indeed the heavier more exacting duty.

KUMU     “The source or the master teacher” from whom all knowledge pertaining to the chants and dances of traditional Hawai'i has been passed to. The “Kumu” has established hisor her teaching on a genealogy of teachers, or Kumu, that have passed their teaching down.The Kumu, in tradition, has completed the hula kuahu and the ʻailolo ritual, which is the eatingof the lolo (brain) from the pig as a symbolic gesture to the ethereal form of the god Lono.Usually trained from childhood or has trained for many years with one or two masters.

Hālau Mele o Hawaiʻi Hula Levels © 2010


  • Basic feet, hand, and body movements.

  • Learning the different positions and timing of the movements.

  • Discovering the meaning behind their feet, body, and hand motions.



  • Continuation and extension of basic feet, hand, and body movements.

  • Refining the different positions and timing of the movements.

  • Adding to the discovery of the meaning behind their feet, body, and hand motions by bringing out their thoughts and feelings behind what they are dancing to.

  • Basic lei making.

  • Eligible to be part of the performing group.



  • Extension and continuation of Levels I & II.

  • More basic lei making.

  • Learning the basic styles of chanting of the hula.

  • Learning to handle basic instruments of the hula.



  • Extension and continuation of all previous Levels

  • Extension on learning lei making, chanting, and handling of basic instruments.

  • They also learn the mannerisms, traditions, and protocols of being part of a hālau hula (hula school).

Coming Soon - More about our papa oli (chant class)

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