Hula dancers from Oakland traveled to the 32nd annual Ia ‘Oe E Ka La Hula Festival at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton during the first weekend of November. The festival, which featured island-style food as well as arts and crafts, also hosted three days of competition in kahiko (traditional) and ‘auana (modern) forms of Hawaiian dance. Groups of boys, girls, men, women and even solo dancers stepped into the spotlight to showcase the skill, grace and expression the dance demands.
Oakland’s Academy of Hawaiian Arts (AHA) shared the stage with 15 other halau (hula schools), including those that traveled from Hawai‘i, Nevada and Washington. At the end of the weekend, the school, based in East Oakland’s Foothill Square, came away with 11 awards—many of them first place distinctions. This list includes one of four overall trophies: the Linda Danek Perpetual Award for the kaikamahine and keiki kane, awarded to the halau with the most points for combined girls’ and boys’ performances.
AHA is led by Mark Keali‘i Ho‘omalu, who moved to California from O‘ahu in 1979. Though he founded the Academy in 2003, he has passed on his bold and innovative style of Hawaiian dance to Bay Area residents for over 20 years—whether they are of Native Hawaiian ancestry, transplants from Hawai‘i, or people who simply love the spirit of the dance. His dancers say the hula culture and the community Ho‘omalu has built are what make their experiences so special.
For more information about Oakland’s Academy of Hawaiian Arts, click here.