Behind the Curtain: A Journey Through Hula at Fairmont Kea Lani

As a Maui resident deeply connected to the art of hula and the spirit of Merrie Monarch, I had high expectations for the Fairmont Kea Lani’s event, “Behind the Curtain: A Journey Through Hula.”

Let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint.

Held on June 1, 2024, this one-night-only event was a true homage to the heart and soul of hula. We were treated to performances from three renowned Maui hālau: Hālau o ka Hanu Lehua, Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi, and Hālau Kaʻuluokalā. Each hālau brought their unique mana to the stage, making it clear why they are revered in the hula community.


The event kicked off with a pop-up mākeke, showcasing local artisans. The stalls of Laʻahana Creations, Palapala Designs, and others were popular, offering everything from handcrafted jewelry to traditional kapa cloth (we bought a beautiful opihi necklace.) Supporting local businesses while immersing ourselves in the culture was a perfect start to the evening.  We enjoyed chatting with the business owners and learning more about their crafts.  Very cool people!

Fairmont Kea Lani

By 6:00 PM, the performances began, and the audience was captivated from the first beat of the pahu. Kumu Hula Carlson Kamaka Kukona III’s Hālau o ka Hanu Lehua set the tone with a powerful kahiko that transported us straight to the Merrie Monarch stage. Following them, Nā Kumu Hula Haunani and ʻIliahi Paredes’ Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi delivered a mesmerizing ʻauana that told stories of love and longing. The night concluded with Kumu Hula ʻUluwehi Guerrero’s Hālau Kaʻuluokalā, whose dancers embodied grace and strength, leaving us all in awe.

Merrie Monarch

What struck me most was the depth of connection these performers have to their craft. As Kamahiwa Kawaʻa, a member of Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi and cultural director for the Fairmont, emphasized, “Hula keeps us connected to our kūpuna and to this ʻāina. For many of us, hula is life.” This sentiment resonated throughout the evening, making it more than just a show – it was a cultural experience that touched my heart over and over.

The Fairmont Kea Lani did an excellent job of fostering this connection to culture. The recently opened Hale Kukuna, their Hawaiian cultural center, is a testament to their commitment.  We really need to see more events like this.  Events that allow locals and visitors to experience the best of the best when it comes to all things hula.

Maui hula dancing

Michael Pye, the regional vice president, and general manager, expressed the resort’s commitment to perpetuating Hawaiian culture. This event was a testament to that commitment, providing a platform for our community to come together and celebrate hula in its purest form.  We applaud Michael and the rest of the Fairmont ‘ohana!

Fairmont Luau

For those who missed it, I highly recommend keeping an eye out for future events at Fairmont Kea Lani. “Behind the Curtain: A Journey Through Hula” was more than an event; it was an experience that deepened our connection to hula and Hawaiian culture. Mahalo to everyone who made it possible!!!!!!

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