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posted: 6/30/2014 7:18 AM

Aloha! The Barefoot Hawaiian Performs Live at the Lake

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  • The Barefoot Hawaiian performs a traditional hula using the feathered gourd rattles called 'ulili, at the Memorial Pavilion on June 26. Lisa Haring

    The Barefoot Hawaiian performs a traditional hula using the feathered gourd rattles called 'ulili, at the Memorial Pavilion on June 26. Lisa Haring

Lisa Haring

Aloha from the beautiful shores of Lake Opeka! On June 26, The Barefoot Hawaiian performed authentic Polynesian dancing and drumming at the Lake Park Memorial Pavilion. The performance was the first of the Live at the Lake concert series, providing free family entertainment on Thursday evenings throughout the summer. Hundreds gathered on the lawn to enjoy the rich cultural heritage of our country's 50th state, told through live music and movement. The show began with the blowing of the conch shell, an invitation to enjoy a voyage through the ages with the magic, romance, and rhythms of the islands from Tahiti to Hawaii to New Zealand.

Gwen Keake'akamai Kennedy, the director of The Barefoot Hawaiian Inc., said hula dancing is becoming more popular, especially in Chicago, because people like the idea of vacationing in tropical areas. "It's beautiful," she said. "Everything about the culture carries a special meaning. Hawaiian dance, for example, is passed down through generations, and it's about love, family and happiness. It's something that families share with one another. Commonly, the movements of Hawaiian dance are used to tell a story, whether it's a love story or a story about the places where people live."

The fifty plus member company told the story of the first settlers to Polynesia: their travels, the obstacles they faced, and their arrival on the islands. Highlights of the show included beginning hula dances by the Keiki, traditional hulas using the ipu (gourde) drum and the Pu ili, (split bamboo sticks,) the Wahine's mystifying Maori Poi Balls dance and the dynamic Tahitian Fire Show. Dancers changed into different costumes during the performance, from bright yellow wraparound skirts called "pareaus" and green leaf lei headbands, to the psychedelic cellophane skirts of the fifties.

Kennedy performed in several of the numbers including Happy Talk from the musical, South Pacific, with the "menehunes," a Hawaiian term that means "little people", and as the bride in the Hawaiian marriage dance sequence.

The next Live at the Lake show is on Thursday, July 10 at 7:00pm and will feature the music of the Des Plaines Park District Community Concert Band. A traditional summertime favorite, the band will perform the music of Broadway and the movies, patriotic marches and hymns, golden oldies, and contemporary favorites. Families are encouraged to picnic in the park before the concert, and enjoy a night of music under the stars.

For more information about events and programs at the Des Plaines Park District, and upcoming Live at the Lake shows, call 847-391-5711 or visit Mahalo!