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Hale Pulelehua
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Krauss, Bob
"Creating archive of hula" The Honolulu Advertiser
13 Sept. 2000: B.

My eyebrows went up when Nona Beamer told me in that sweet-voiced, determined way she has that there are 242 types of ancient hula and 25 ancient Hawaiian musical instruments.
     At least, that's how many the Hula Preservation Society has documented so far.
     This group wants to not only list every type of ancient hula any kumu hula can remember but also to videotape performances and file the tapes.
     There isn't such a library in Hawai`i now, except in the heads of kumu hula, and it's available only if they share their knowledge.
     Nona's daughter, Maile Kapuailohia Beamer Loo, got the idea of compiling an ancient hula video archives. She has a degree in artificial intelligence and makes educational computer software.
       The big surprise for me was the number of different types of ancient hula. Sitting hula and standing hula are just the tip of the iceberg.
    "There are 82 types of animal dances," Nona said. "Pig, dog, shark, kolea, to name a few. Some are entertaining, some are tragic.
     "The hula mu`umu`u is that. It's about an armless and legless woman. I know only one but I suspect that others are out there. One of the guiding lights of hula is that not all knowledge rests in one place."
     Daughter Maile said she's studied the work of Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Pukui, an authority on the ancient hula, and found a description of the hula helo, or reclining hula.
     "It's done lying on one side propped up on one arm," Nona explained. "My great grandmother showed my mother. I saw it but haven't done it in 30 years. It takes a lot of strength in the leg muscles."
     Nona is the matriarch of a hula family that descended from her great-grandmother, wife of a minister in Hilo. Being married to a minister didn't stop her from teaching hula when he
was out of the house.
     Nona is the matriarch of a hula family that descended from her great-grandmother, wife of a minister in Hilo. Being married to a minister didn't stop her from teaching hula when he was out of the house.
     A daughter married a colorful Pete Beamer, who started repairing bicycles in Hilo and became a millionaire. His wife led a hula troupe.
     One of her most promising pupils was granddaughter Nona, who began performing at age 3.
     Nona admitted that some kumu hula may not be comfortable with videotaping the ancient hula instead of passing it down from teacher to student. The hope is to help everyone learn more.
     I don't know any hulas to a canoe chant," said Beamer. "Maybe hulas about navigation would be too factual, too much information that had to be told. Too much rhythm might be a distraction."
     If there are hulas to canoe or navigation chants, the Hula Preservation Society wants to find out.
     The person to contact is Keahaulani Castro at 225-2747; e-mail: hulapres@hula.net.
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