What Are The Requirements To 'Uniki as a Traditional Kumu Hula?
What is being shared on these pages are the traditions given to me in my training as Kumu Hula. Other traditions may vary
"Always remember that all knowledge is not held in any one Halau or Hula Tradition"
2nd step on the journey to 'uniki
Many students will be content having achieved the significant status of 'Olapa. A few others will be desirous of continuing their study with the goal of becoming a Kumu Hula one day. The next level of study towards that goal is that of Ho'opa'a, or expert chanter. This level of study is roughly analogous to achieving one's Masters Degree in western schooling. In this phase of study the candidate learns how to chant the words and provide the rhythmic accompaniment for all of the numbers in their repertoire so that they can provide the accompaniment for other dancers. In addition, many additional oli (chant) are committed to memory for use on appropriate occasions. As the various mele (hula) or oli (chant) are examined, deeper layers of understanding of the kaona (hidden meanings) are explored with the Kumu Hula. Additional research by the students is required, as well as their being required to make their own translations of the materials studied. The elements of choreography are taught which result in the candidate translating and creating appropriate choreography to assigned texts. In addition, original composition of one or more mele or oli is encouraged.
In our tradition, the playing of the hula pahu (hula drum) is reserved for one who has achieved the status of 'Olapa. The pahu is held with such reverence that untitled persons are not permitted to touch one. It is at this stage of training that the candidates create their own personal pahu. The coconut tree stump is selected and the shaping of the drum takes place with the halau master craftsman guiding the candidate in the physical and spiritual journey of making the ultimate hula instrument: the pahu. Additional mele hula (hula dances) are committed to memory so as to increase the body of knowledge being transmitted from the Kumu to the student. The candidate begins to learn the appropriate protocol for various presentations and situations. The same sort of periodic testing and assessing takes place to measure the progress of the haumana (student). Again, other traditionally trained Kumu Hula are a part of this assessment process. When it is felt that the student is ready, an 'uniki rite and public 'uniki program are arranged for the graduation ceremony in much the same way as the 'uniki as 'Olapa. The main difference in this presentation is that the candidate will act as the accompanist and others will act as the dancer. In our school of hula, a short kihei (length of draped fabric tied at one shoulder) printed to match the ceremonial hula pa'u is presented to the candidate at the conclusion of the successful completion of the public 'uniki to signify having achieved the status of Ho'opa'a.
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