Not too many people have an opportunity to watch performers from Niihau. Thursday night, in a rare appearance, Lanakila o Niihau, under the direction of kumu Ehu Kanahele, took the stage for a free presentation at the Kukui Grove Center.
“I only got the confirmation Wednesday afternoon they were coming to perform,” said Jonell Kaohelaulii, marketing director for Kukui Grove. “My father’s brother plays with the group and that’s how they came to the mall.”
In an appearance where family ties were important, Hokuau Kaohelaulii explained how the kumu for the halau is her aunt and the bass player, Dana Kaohelaulii, is her dad.
“Not all of us live on Niihau,” Hokuau said. “We actually practice in Waimea, but most of us live on Niihau.”
Combining the voices of Hiipoe Kanahele, Dana and Hokuau, and Kanoe Mortin, the quartet provided the musical background for the group.
Dancers of Lanakila o Niihau took the stage in two group numbers, but primarily concentrated on individual performances. The dancers took to the stage on breaks in the music while Hokuau strummed her ukulele in the background.
This is unlike the Kauai halau, where dancers prefer to take the stage in group numbers as demonstrated by the earlier performance by Ilima Rivera, playing a blend of Christmas music done Hawaiian style.
Jonell said Rivera and her halau returns to the stage starting at 4 p.m. today as part of the continuing entertainment.
Monday will be the final day of extended hours when the mall closes at 10 p.m. Tamatea Nui o Kauai takes the stage starting at noon.