Talk Story With Kumu Hula Etua Lopes And Haumana Lacey Deniz

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Hula is all about relationships, and an upcoming event hosted by a Big Island nonprofit will highlight the special bond between a kumu and his haumana.

Laʻiʻōpua 2020 is bringing together celebrated Kona kumu hula Etua Lopes and one of his haumana, former Miss Kona Coffee and television personality Lacy Deniz, for a talk-story session about hula from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at the organization’s headquarters located at 74-5210 Keanalehu Drive in Kealakehe.

The event is free and open to the public; beach chairs and coolers are welcome. Cultural crafts will be demonstrated and shared with participants from 1:30-3 p.m., followed by the talk-story session.

Lopes was a student of renowned kumu hula George Naʻope for more than 25 years, starting as a drummer in Uncle George’s hālau. After his ʻuniki in 1978, he started his own hālau, Hālau Hula Na Pua Uʻi O Hawaiʻi, and was invited by Aunty Lei Collins to have his hula classes at Huliheʻe Palace in Kona. He and his dancers are deemed Huliheʻe’s Palace Dancers.


Lopes has dedicated himself to the tradition of hula and the keiki he teaches, still on the palace grounds.

One of Lopes’ haumana is Hawaiʻi News Now television personality Deniz. Deniz, who was born and raised in Hōnaunau, credits Lopes with teaching her all she knows about hula, from her first kaholo step to her first Merrie Monarch hula competition. She is honored to be a haumana of “such an incredible, wise and dedicated kumu.”

This is the third of four Ola ka Lāhui events, where island historians, kūpuna, storytellers and artisans share their manaʻo with residents and visitors interested in a deeper connection to Hawaiʻi’s history, arts and traditions. “Ola ka Lāhui” translates to “The Nation Lives On,” reflecting an intent to share the ʻike and moʻolelo of Hawaiʻi for generations to come.


Each session will be filmed and aired on Nā Leo public television. The events will also be available for viewing on YouTube and through Laʻiʻōpua 2020’s website.

Laʻiʻōpua 2020’s mission is to provide social, recreational, vocational, economic, educational and cultural opportunities and infrastructure to Native Hawaiians to include the communities of the Kealakehe ahupuaʻa. For more information, visit the organization’s website or call 808-327-1221.

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