Merrie Monarch Maui Contestants Take Stage in Hilo
The competition portion of the 54th Annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival kicks off tonight at the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium in Hilo, Hawaiʻi, with solo performances by hula dancers vying for the title of Miss Aloha Hula.
Tonight’s segment is the first of three nights of competition, which continues on Friday with group kahiko or ancient hula performances, and concludes with an ʻauana or modern hula competition and awards ceremony on Saturday night.
Four Maui hālau will compete in the event, including: the women of Pukalani Hula Hale under the direction of Kumu Hiʻilei Maxwell-Juan; the men and women of Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi under the direction of Nā Kumu Haunani and ʻIliahi Paredes; the women of Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka, under the direction of Kumu Nāpua Greig; and the women of Hālau o Ka Hanu Lehua, under the direction of Kumu Kamaka Kukona.
Just three Maui contestants will take the stage for tonight’s solo competition, including: Miriam Anuhea Kamakanaokealoha Hokoana Arakawa, Leila Noelani Kuʻuleimomi Rodrigues and Leimakamae Maura Kea.
Miriam Anuhea Kamakanaokealoha Hokoana Arakawa with Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka, under the direction of Kumu Nāpua Greig, will perform her kahiko to “Auhea Wale Ana ʻOe, E Ka Ua ʻUlalena.” The mele seeks the pink-hued rain of ʻUlalena that adorns the uplands of Piʻiholo on Maui. According to the program booklet, the hālau writes, “As kamaʻāina of Maui, we feel it is our kuleana to forever praise the names of these places, lest they be forgotten.” Arakawa is scheduled to perform 4th in tonight’s lineup. She will return to the stage as the fourth dancer after intermission to perform her ʻauana selection to “Rose Onaona,” which compares one’s beauty to that of a fragrant rose.
Leila Noelani Kuʻuleimomi Rodrigues with Hālau o Ka Hanu Lehua, under the direction of Kumu Kamaka Kukona, will perform “Iā ʻOe E Ka Lā,” a song written for King Kalākaua before leaving Hawaiʻi on a world journey. “This was an ode wishing him success on his voyage,” the program states. Rodrigues will be the 8th dancer to appear in tonight’s lineup. She will also be 8th after intermission, performing an ʻauana to “Mauna Kahālāwai,” which praises the beauty of the West Maui Mountains and the four great waters of Nā Wai ʻEha that flow from her slopes and through her valleys.
Leimakamae Maura Kea of Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi under the direction of Nā Kumu Haunani and ʻIliahi Paredes, will perform “Pua I Lehua,” as her kahiko selection, and “Ka Ipo Lei Manu” for her ʻauana. Both selections were composed by Queen Kapiʻolani for her husband, King David Kalākaua.
The first served as an expression of love during Kalākaua’s travels around the world in 1881; and the second, also a love song was composed after he left Hawaiʻi for California in 1890. The program booklet notes that the King died before returning home and “never heard the haunting and passionate love song composed so tenderly by his devoted and loving wife.” Kea will be the 9th out of 10 competitors to take the stage for the kahiko portion of the program, and again after intermission for her ʻauana selection.