By Wendy Osher
Maui’s Halau Ke’alaokamaile, under the direction of Kumu Hula Keali’i Reichel, returns to Maui with accolades and honors from the hula world. The ladies earned the coveted Lokalia Montgomery Perpetual Trophy at the 48th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival over the weekend in Hilo, Hawai’i.
This year was the third year that the halau participated in the event, the second time that a soloist from the halau was named Miss Aloha Hula, and the first time they were honored with the overall title.
The halau placed first in the Wahine Kahiko division with 584 points, and second in the Wahine ‘Auana division with 579 points, for a combined total of 1163 points. That was enough to secure top honors for the Overall Wahine title out of the 19 women’s groups competing, and, and the Overall Perpetual title among the 28 groups in the competition. Earlier in the competition, halau soloist, Tori Hulali Canha was named Miss Aloha Hula 2011.
The women from Wailuku, Maui, danced a mele ma’i for thier Kahiko or ancient hula performance. The procreation chant entitled Ko Ma’i ’Auka pays tribute to Prince Leleiohoku, the younger brother of King David Kalakaua. Utilizing imagery and playful gestures, the hula compares a specific body part to a heavy gold bar. According to the descriptive account in the festival program, mele ma’i were composed to ensure and encourage the perpetuation of the royal blood line.
Hula dancers were outfitted in deep brown pa’u skirts, monarch era cream blouses, palapalai fern po’o and kupe’e, yellow ilima lei and a maile sash for the kahiko attire.
For their ‘Auana selection, Ke’alaokamaile performed Ua Noho Au A Kupa, a classic composition about love from the late 1880s. The festival program says the mele was also known as the Kaniakapupu Song, and is attributed to Edward Nainoa, although some believe it was composed by Queen Lili’uokalani. The poetry of the song proclaims, “I have become accustomed to your presence, and your voice has become familiar.”
Fellow Mauians, Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka, under the direction of Na Kumu Hula Napua Makua and Kahulu Maluo, earned fifth place honors in the Wahine Kahiko division for their performance of Aia Ka La’i I Pi’iholo. The mele speaks of the beauty in the winds, rains and flowers of the Pi’iholo region of Maui. The Halau also secured the second place spot in the Miss Aloha Hula competition featuring soloist Manalani Mili Hokoana English.
As part of the Overall Award, Halau Ke’alaokamaile was also invited to participate in the Ikaho Hawaiian Festival in Shimogawa City Japan.