Now in fiftieth year, the venerable Merrie Monarch Festival got under way on Sun., March 31 and wrapped up late Saturday night. Here are the results for the event's top winners:
• Miss Aloha Hula — Twelve solo dancers competed for the title, which went to Manalani Mili Hokoana English of Maui. English is a member of Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka (kumu hula Napua Greig and Kahulu Maluo) of Kula, Maui.
• Wahine Kahiko — The top score among women's halau performances of ancient hula went to Halau Mohala Ilima (kumu Mapuana de Silva); Kailua, Oahu.
• Wahine Auana — The top score among women's halau performances for modern hula: Keolalaulani Halau Olapa O Laka (kumu Aloha Dalire); Kaneohe, Oahu.
• Wahine Overall — Halau Mohala Ilima (kumu Mapuana de Silva); Kailua, Oahu
• Kane Kahiko — The top score among men's halau performances of ancient hula went to Kawailiula (kumu Chinky Mahoe); Kailua, Oahu.
• Kane Auana — The top score among men's halau performances for modern hula: Kawailiula (kumu Chinky Mahoe); Kailua, Oahu.
• Kane Overall — Kawailiula (kumu Chinky Mahoe); Kailua, Oahu.
• Merrie Monarch Fest's Overall Winner —Kawailiula (kumu Chinky Mahoe); Kailua, Oahu.
In addition to world-class hula competition, the fest featured exhibitions, musical entertainment, arts-and-craft fairs, and its annual Royal Parade through downtown Hilo. The weeklong event honors the legacy of King David Kalakaua, who was called the “Merrie Monarch” for his love of the arts, especially music and dance.
The hula competition, which was introduced in 1971, spotlights kahiko (ancient) and ‘auana (modern) hula as well as oli (traditional chanting). Despite devotion to dance, hula titles were not a part of the inaugural event. In 1963, highlights ranged from campy, with King Kalakaua beard look-alike contest, to commemorative, with a re-creation ceremony enacting the monarch’s coronation.
In the years that followed, organizers endeavored to step up the pageantry by replicating a bit of King Kalakaua’s 50th birthday celebration in 1886, also known as the “Silver Jubilee,” during which Hawai‘i’s top-notch ‘olapa (dancers) and ho‘opa‘a (chanters) performed.
For additional information about the Merrie Monarch Fest, click here. Click here for details about television broadcasts and live-streaming video of the competitions.
Photo: Merrie Monarch Festival