Three Maui Hālau Compete in Merrie Monarch Hula Festival
The competition portion of the 55th Annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival kicks off Thursday night, April 5, 2018, at the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium in Hilo, Hawaiʻi, with solo performances by hula dancers vying for the title of Miss Aloha Hula.
Maui’s soloists are: Meagan Puanani Guerrero of Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi and Shaila Kapuauʻionālani Kikuyo Kamakaokalani of Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka.
Thursday’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.
Three Maui hālau will compete in the event, including: the men and women of Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi under the direction of Nā Kumu Haunani and ʻIliahi Paredes of Wailuku; the women of Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka, under the direction of Kumu Nāpua Greig of Waiohuli; and the women of Hālau o Ka Hanu Lehua, under the direction of Kumu Kamaka Kukona of Waikapū.
There are a total of 29 performances on each night of the group competition. Maui groups are scheduled to appear on both Friday and Saturday night in the following order:
#13 Hālau o Ka Hanu Lehua (wahine)
#14 Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi (wahine)
#21 Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi (kāne)
#23 Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka (wahine)
For those who are watching from home, the festival can be viewed on KFVE or streamed online at K5 The Home Team.
Maui highlights include the following:
Miss Aloha Hula Maui Contestants:
Meagan Puanani Guerrero: of Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi under the direction of nā Kumu Haunani and ʻIliahi Paredes will appear sixth in the lineup on Thursday night, with a hula kahiko selection “He Aloha No Liliʻu.”
The contemporary mele was written by Kahu Wendell Kalanipauaenui Silva, and speaks of love and support for Queen Liliʻuokalani. According to the festival booklet, the composition references a double rainbow that is said to have appeared in the heavens above Pūowaina near Liliʻuokalani’s birthplace on the day of her birth.
After intermission, the dancers perform their ʻauana or modern hula. Guerrero will take the stage as the sixth dancer once again, with “He Aloha Kuʻu Ipo,” a love song composed by Mary Kawena Pukui and Maddy Lam. The program booklet states, “The mele is an expression of affection for a beloved sweetheart, a close companion for whom the thrill of love is anchored deep in the heart.”
Shaila Kapuau’ionalani Kikuyo Kamakaokalani: of Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka under the direction of Kumu Nāpua Greig, will pay tribute to Kapiʻolani and Kaʻiulani in her kahiko and ʻauana performances respectively. She will appear seventh in the lineup on Thursday.
In her kahiko hula, Kamakaokalani dances to “Lei No Kapiʻolani.” According to festival material, this traditional lei chant for Kapiʻolani has been passed down as a hula noho kālaʻau. “It takes place at the famed fortress at Kaʻuiki in Hāna Maui, and travels throughout the paeʻāina, particularly highlighting Kapiʻolani’s journey to Maui Island.”
Kamakaokalani’s ʻauana selection honors Kaʻiulani, for her poise, intelligence and bravery. A festival booklet description of the mele explains: “Kaʻiulani epitomizes our people’s ability to master Eurocentric ideologies and powers while still remaining paʻa to our identity as kānaka.”
Hālau o Ka Hanu Lehua: The women of Hālau o Ka Hanu Lehua under the direction of kumu Kamaka Kukona of Waikapū, Maui will perform to a mele hoʻoipoipo or love chant on Friday night. “Auhea Wale ʻOe E Sweet Moonlight” is set in the “deep forest, where the scent of palapalai ferns and maile permeate the air.” The festival booklet explains: “The metaphoric layer, kaona, speaks of love-making on a moonlit night where two lovers rendezvous.”
In their ʻauana selection, Hālau o Ka Hanu Lehua dances to “Pōlehoonālani,” a mele written by Kuana Torres Kahele as a tribute to the island of Niʻihau and the pūpū Pōleho shells. According to the festival booklet: “Kahele wrote this mele for his hānai mother Mama Annie Ane Kanahele, a Niʻihau native who dedicated her life to making these beautiful lei pūpū.”
Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi: On Friday night, the women of Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi perform “He Maʻi No Emma,” a procreation dance to perpetuate the aliʻi bloodline. Then on Saturday, the wahine have selected “Old Plantation, a mele that honors Victoria Robinson Ward, a friend and supporter of Queen Liliuokalani.
The men of Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi have selected “Nani Wale Nō ʻUlakōheo” for their kahiko. The mele speaks of ʻUlakoheo, “the site of the old Honolulu Iron Works, where steam was used to power large machinery.” The kāne will take the stage on Saturday night with the mele “Kaʻū Nui,” or the “Great Kaʻū,” which celebrates the beauty of the area.
Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka: The women of Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka take the stage on kahiko night with “Ke Ahi A Lonomakua,” derived from the love story of Pelehonuamea and the pig god Kamapuaʻa. According to a description in the festival program, “This mele is offered by Kamapua’a as a last attempt to appease” Pele’s wrath “by recognizing the impressive characteristics associated with her volcanic eruptions.
Their modern hula celebrates the island home of Maui with “Nā Mele Kaulana No Maui.” According to the festival program, “This medley traverses our beloved home, framed by Haleakalā and Mauna Kahalawai. To kamaʻāina, these mele and their hula express our overwhelming sense of aloha ʻāina.”