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nÄ koa kelsey galago A hula odyssey Page 4

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SUMMER 2015 ........................


Photo by UʻILANI FRIEDMAN U’ilani Friedman Photography

COVER PHOTO Maui native and 2015 Miss Aloha Hula contestant Kelsey Marie Kuʻulei Miliama Galago is pictured during her ʻauana performance, Kuʻu Home O Keaukaha.



KS Maui alumna, Anela Uʻilani Ruth Fusano Tanigawa, competes in the 2015 Miss Aloha Hula Competition representing Hālau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka. Tanigawa placed fourth.


Hawaiian Glossary

Marie Ku‘ulei Miliama Galago takes us with her on her journey to Merrie Monarch 2015.

Kahiko and ‘Auana: Two Hula Styles If you’re a hula newby then

you’re probably wondering, “What’s the difference?” Get the descriptions here.


Step-By-Step: A Hula How-To

Though it may look hard, with a little practice all things are possible! Try out a few of our fave hula steps.


Photo courtesy of Kahu Kalani Wong

Perpetuating a Legacy Kelsey

If you are a malihini, or stranger, to hula vocabulary, hereʻs a quick guide to some of the Hawaiian terms used in the stories throughout this issue and their use in the hula community.

ʻauana: adj. modern-style hula hala: n. pandanus tree hālau: n. a hula group, troupe or school haumāna: n. student holokū: n. formal gown with a train ipu heke: n. gourd drum kahiko: adj. old, traditional-style hula kāne: n. male, man kapu: adj., n. taboo, that which is forbidden

kumu: n. teacher, mentor lau: n. leaf lauhala: n. pandanus tree leaf (ves) mele: n. a song nā kumu: pl. n. plural of kumu oli: n, i.v. a chant or to chant without dance pahu: n. drum pāʻū lauhala: n. skirt made of pandanus leaves pāʻū: n. skirt wahine: n. female, woman

nā koa

.........................SUMMER from the editor ....................... 2015...........................................................................................


Maui Masters: Paredes Duo

This Maui duo is committed to excellence in the art of hula, learn how they do it.


Merrie Monarch’s Dance Through History Find out how the exclusive event began and the names behind it all.


Mae Kamāmalu Klein reflects on years as Merrie Monarch Judge Ever wondered what it’s like

to be a judge? Mae Kamāmalu Klein gives us the inside scoop.


How It’s Made: Pā’ū Lauhala

It’s a long process, but in the end it’s worth it — we’re talking skirts.

The best of the best! For those of you who are unfamiliar with how crazy important the Merrie Monarch Festival is, let me fill you in. It’s basically the Olympics of hula, and let me tell ya, it’s impressive. There’s no tryout or sign up – get this – you have to be asked to participate in the festival. And with only 14 hālau invited each year, you better hope you measure up. Not to mention, of those 14 hālau, only 11 candidates are allowed to compete for the Miss Aloha Hula competition. It’s literally the best of the best competing for the most glorified awards the world of hula has ever seen. But that’s only the competitive side of it all, the cultural aspects of it all are even more impressive. My favorite part? The atmosphere. The smell of lei everywhere, the sound of the Hawaiian language, the sight of endless smiles – there’s nothing like it. Nowhere in the world can you go to a place that hosts people of all different backgrounds in celebration of one magnificent culture – the Hawaiian culture.

If you’re still not sold on how big a deal this festival is, read on. By the end of this issue, you’ll have dreams of becoming Miss Aloha Hula, too. Not only has this year’s Merrie Monarch Festival come to an end, but this is the end of Nā Koa magazine this school year, and it has been a journey. From trolling beaches looking for surfers to interview, to learning the downward dog yoga pose, diving in shark-infested waters, and getting backstage access to Merrie Monarch 2015, it’s been quite a year. Nā Koa is by far my consummate creation, and it’s going to be hard to say good-bye to my baby as I venture out into the great unknown of the Pacific Northwest to pursue the next leg of my journalism journey, but I’m leaving it in the good hands of next year’s staff. To them: treat her well, feed her with fresh stories, and fill her with beautiful images, and she will make you proud as Nā Koa grows into her second year as the student-Maui community connection. A hui hou!


Maui Made Four local dancers

tell us why they love hula, and what their first experiences dancing were like.


Keiki Can, Too They might be

young, but there’s no doubt that they’re on their way to hula success.

.......... about the editor ............................................................................. Maile Sur, 17, is a senior at Kamehameha Schools Maui. She was

born and raised on Maui and has a passion for photography and design. Being a lover of the outdoors, she can always be found out and about roaming the forests for great hikes or just hanging at the beach with her friends. She hopes to one day become an art director for a magazine like Seventeen, Teen Vogue or W Magazine. Editor-in-Chief Maile Sur Staff Kainoa Deguilmo • Ashley-Anne Morishita • Faith Owan • Kainalu Steward • Alyssa Urayanza • Quinn Williams Layout Assistant Destinee Murray



perpetuating a



For anyone that dances hula, a shot at the prestigious Miss Aloha Hula title is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and wahine hula and 2009’s Miss Hula o NÄ Keiki Kelsey Galago got that shot.

story Maile Sur photographs used courtesy of Kahu Kalani Wong



hen you eat, sleep, and breathe hula, it’s no wonder that you would compete for the most prestigious individual hula award in the world. The journey to become 2015’s Miss Aloha Hula was an incredibly long one for 23-year-old Kelsey Marie Kuʻulei Miliama Haina Galago – five years to be exact. But her start in hula began long before that. At three-years-old, Kelsey was “forced” into hula by her mother Kris Haina Galago. “Had it not been for that encouragement, I probably wouldn’t be here today,” Galago said with a laugh. Kelsey danced “for fun” until she was eight years old, but when her family moved from Oʻahu to Maui and she joined Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi when the hālau was just starting in 2004, hula became serious. Galago has been dancing under the direction of nā kumu hula ʻIliahi and Haunani Joy Paredes for almost 11 years. She was a stellar student. During her senior year of high school at Kamehameha Schools Maui, Galago took the title of Miss Hula O Nā Keiki 2009 in Kaʻanapali. “I noticed that it gave me a lot of self-confidence, and that’s what [gearing up for competition did] again,” Galago said. After graduating from Kamehameha Schools Maui in 2010, Galago trekked all the way to Forest Grove, Oregon, to study at Pacific University and attain a bachelor’s degree in social work. But she continued to demon-

strate her love for hula and the Hawaiian culture. “I was in charge of the lūʻau at Pacific University,” Galago said. “I would choreograph some of the

es, organized auditions, and arranged practices, all while pursuing her degree. Leading up to the week of the event, Galago organized daily dress rehearsals that

“Perpetuating my legacy is a real blessing and an honor,”

mele… and through that I got to dance with Uncle Keola Beamer.” Her role for the lūʻau was primarily as a hula instructor, which meant she was choreographed dances, worked with the musicians to create a medley of songs, figured out costumes and hairpiec-

-Kelsey Galago

would run late into the next morning. The Annual Benefit Lūʻau is presented by the Pacific University Hawaiian Club as a fundraiser for club activities and service projects. The event is one of the largest of its kind held on a campus in the United States with over

2,000 people in attendance every year. Because of Galago’s position, she got the opportunity to choreograph and perform with Uncle Keola Beamer. The Oʻahu slack-key guitar player made his way to Pacific University in 2014 to perform a concert and invited Galago to perform alongside him. “I choreographed ‘Green Rose Hula’ for him, and [during our dress rehearsal], which was amazing, he was teary, and actually got down on one knee and kissed my hand. He said to me, ‘Oh, girl, that was so beautiful… Thank you for bringing the song justice.’ That was so magical for me,” she said. Once she attained her degree, Galago made her way back to the islands to hold up her end of a deal she had made with her parents. (GALAGO cont. on facing page) (GALAGO from previous page)

The Miss Aloha Hula contestant is accompanied by her kumu hula Paredes as she enters for her hula kahiko.

“The deal was that if I graduated from college that I would be able to come home and compete and that [my parents] would fully support me,” Galago said. Sounds like a pretty easy deal, right? Not so much. Hula for Galago is a fulltime job. Not only does she juggle multiple practices, a master’s program application, and side classes at the University of Hawaii Maui Campus, she also has to watch the family budget due to the costs of attending a competition like the Merrie Monarch Festival. “I’ve had to make really big financial sacrifices,” Galago said. “I can really see my family is making some huge sacrifices as well, and we’re having to cut back because it’s really expensive. It’s in the thousands.” A day in the life of Kelsey Galago is “pretty boring,” she says with a laugh, filled with practice, studying, more practice, exercising, and even more practice. To prepare for the competition, Galago practiced three to four days a week with her kumu, for three hours each time. However, her day didn’t begin there. After waking up at the crack of dawn, Galago would go for a morning walk. Once that was over with and she’d gotten something to eat, it was off to the books to get some studying in or to work on that heavy duty master’s program application, or to do some hula research. “I worked out again after that because I needed to build stamina for the song,” Galago said.

Backstage, Galago is prepared for her hula kahiko. She is helped with her hair, make-up, dress, and adornments. Then, when the average person was getting ready for dinner, Galago would get ready for her practice with nā kumu. For those who dance hula, it is important to know the background of the song and the meaning behind the words and motions they dance. For instance, during Galago’s run at Miss Hula o Nā Keiki in 2009, she chanted at ʻĪao Valley in the West Maui Mountains because there is significance between her hālau, which practices at ʻĪao Intermediate School, and the west side of Maui. Her entire performance was also dedicated to her maternal grandmother, Mary Kuʻulei Kū of Hāna, Maui, who had passed away suddenly just six months previous. The oli, mele, hula, costumes, and adornments all paid tribute to Hāna. (GALAGO cont. on page 8)

Galago dances to Ku’u Home O Keaukaha for her ʻauana performance.


On Day Two of the Merrie Monarch Festival, Galago practices with her hālau on the empty stage. (GALAGO from page 7)

For her shot at Miss Aloha Hula, she researched and visited Keaukaha on the Big Island. It was important to visit the area she would be honoring in her dance and to meet distant relatives to her maternal grandfather, Kenneth Samuel Haina, who was from the area. Her hula ʻauana, Kuʻu Home o Keaukaha, pays homage to Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaʻole and the people of Keaukaha Hawaiian Homestead lands. For her hula kahiko, Galagao wore a lauhala skirt she


had made in Waikaloa, Hāna with all of Hāna ʻohana. They used over 350 green hala leaves gathered from Hāna lands to make the 6-foot, triple-strand piece, which weighed in at about 40 pounds! Her hula ʻauana dress was actually one of three duplicates made as back-ups in case anything happened to the first dress. At practices, Galago was constantly on her feet working on her individual piece and the group pieces. Her hālau performed five times at the festival, three that included Galago, so nā kumu

would go over each dance one after another. “I barely get a chance to catch my breath [at practice],” Galago said. That doesn’t include all the practice she did at home on her own. As part of the competition, Galago also chanted for her performance, which meant she needed to memorize all the words and practice delivering them with meaning. And of course, more research. Just hearing of all the time that goes into this competition is exhausting! For the Merrie Monarch

Festival, each hālau and dancer needs permission to perform their songs. Galago’s ʻauana mele, Kuʻu Home ʻO Keaukaha, was written by Albert Nahaleʻa, so to get permission, Galago and her family talked to Nahaleʻa’s daughter, Alberta Nahaleʻa Andaya. “When my mom asked [Alberta] to sign the copyright form, she was more than willing to do so. She drove to the Merrie Monarch office, signed the paper, met us at Keaukaha when they did a welcoming, and she said that she would be honored if I did this mele on behalf of her father. So it was a really special mele. It ties me to my family,” Galago said. Through this interaction, Galago founnd out that she is related to the Nahaleʻa family, as well as to Uncle George Naʻope, original co-founder of the Merrie Monarch Festival, which made her realize how deep her hula roots go. In the end, Galago did not place in the top five at the Miss Aloha Hula competition on April 9, 2015, but to just be nominated as one of the year’s 11 elite dancers to appear at the most prestigious hula competition in the world was more than enough. For Galago, it’s all about perpetuating a legacy. “It’s personal to me because [hula] comes from both sides [of my family]. Perpetuating my legacy is a real blessing and an honor,” she said. Where does she go from here? Itʻs back to Pacific University’s Eugene campus to get that master’s degree!

..........KAHIKO ............... ‘AUANA...........

& Two hula styles by alyssa urayanza, staff writer

At Merrie Monarch, there are traditionally two different styles of hula that are performed: hula kahiko and hula ‘auana. In short, kahiko is more traditional in style and guidelines, while ‘auana is modern and “new.” Hula troupes must perform in both kahiko and ‘auana for competition. “Hula kahiko, more [often than not], are hula that are older in text and follow

more traditional movements and guidelines as far as choreography,” Kumu Henohea Kane said. “Hula ‘auana [on the other hand] is progressive and evolves constantly.” Hula kahiko instruments are typically limited to traditional instruments, such as the ipu heke and pahu, but instrumentation can differ depending on the hula lineage of the hālau. Being more open to

changes in music and culture, it seems only natural that instrumentation for hula ‘auana includes the use of modern instruments such as the guitar, ‘ukulele, piano, and bass. Some traditional hula steps include movements such as hela, uwehe, kaholo, kawelu, ‘o, ‘ami, ‘oniu, wawae ka, ki’i wawae, and kapahu, while, moves like the sela moku or sailor step, which

imitates the movements of a dancing Navy sailor, are more modern. “Modern steps are always based off of traditional steps. It really is just a modification of traditional movements or just a matter of a slightly different angle,” Kumu Henohea said. “All hula movements mimic life, whether it is in nature or [the] life of humans.”


Step-By-Step: A hula how-to KĀHOLO HELA 1 2 by maile sur, editor-in-chief

“Kaholo, for us, is the very first step that we teach our youngest dancers. It is exactly what it’s name is: a holo step, a moving step. It’s four steps to the right, four steps to the lef. It allows the dancers to move, and it really captures its name to holo and move.”

How to:

to the right so that your legs are about two feet apart. 3. Now, step to the right with your left foot so that your feet are now in the starting position. 4. Repeat once more on the right, then switch to the left.

Level of difficulty:

1. Start with both feet flat on the ground. 2. Take your right foot and side step

“The hela, in our hālau is a stationary step. Each hālau does hela their own unique way, but our hela is done with flat feet in the aikaʻa position, a low, close to the ground position. We know that hela is one of the main basic steps of hula, and it is one step that actually transcends both hula that is done with ipu heke and also a pahu step, as well.”

ground. 2. Take your right foot and place it at a 45-degree angle to the front/right, then bring your foot back into starting position. 3. Repeat with left foot.

Level of difficulty:

How to:

1. Start with both feet flat on the



“In our hālau, because we have wahine and kāne, we actually do two different types of ʻuwehe. Our kāne do ʻuwehe much like the ʻuwehe I learned from my kumu, O’Brian Eselu. That ʻuwehe is a very powerful ʻuwehe that is again, flat-footed. When we lift our heels to open up our knees, we open our knees wide, snap them open, and close them really quickly in a rapid motion to the ipu heke beat. Our wahine do a more traditional ʻuwehe that comes from the hula styling’s of Aunty Pat Namaka Bacon, hula that really was done in the early



1900’s. Our wahine do ʻuwehe that do not snap open and closed, but rather the knees go forward and back down. From what we understand, it’s a more traditional type of ʻuwehe.”

How to:

1. Start with both feet flat on the ground. 2. Bend your knees slightly. 3. Snap your heels off the ground while keeping your toes flat on the floor. 4. Return your heels to the ground rapidly.

Level of difficulty:

“The kāwelu step that we do is probably different from most people’s understanding of kāwelu. The kāwelu that we do, a lot of kumu call it ‘o.’ Basically, it’s another holo step where the dancer is allowed to move big distances on the stage.”

How to:

1. Start with both feet flat on the ground. 2. Step forward with your right foot while swaying your righthip forward.


3. Then step backward with the same foot while swaying your hip backward. 4. Repeat with the left leg.

Level of difficulty:



KUʻI “The kuʻi is a powerful step only for our kāne. We haven’t taught our wahine kuʻi, but we utilize it a lot in our kāne hula. We do different types of kuʻi: regular kuʻi and a hula kuʻi that we learned from Kumu O’Brian Eselu. The kuʻi step is really an integral part of the style that we do for our kāne. So the main thing we teach our kāne is that when we kuʻi, we want to make sure that we bend our knees. One of the most important things we tell our kāne is that when you kuʻi you gotta make sound with your feet on the ground because the step calls for that.” How to: 1. Start with both feet flat on ground. 2. Hop right onto the right foot while bringing the left heel (with toes pointing left) about 6” in front of the right knee. Make sure that your whole body isn’t bouncing, just your legs. 3. Hop again, but bring your left heel (with toes pointing left) behind the right knee. 4. Repeat on right side 4 times, and then switch to opposite foot. Level of difficulty:

After the Merrie Monarch Festival, many in Hawaiʻi and across the world are probably wondering, “How did they do that?” For those of you trying to figure out the moves in your living room, we’ve created an easy how-to on some of the basic and not-so-basic hula moves. Kumu ʻIliahi Paredes tells about the meaning behind the steps, and how Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi puts their own spin on them. So, go ahead, give them a try!


maui ............................. masters......... Paredes Duo by KAINALU STEWARD, staff writer

Not very often do you hear of a dynamic duo in the Hawaiian and hula community that complement each other so perfectly by creating performances full of mana, or power. Although they come from different islands of Hawai‘i, their passion for hula brought them together, and they pass on the tradition through their own hālau or hula group, Kekuaokala‘au‘ala‘iliahi. Kumu Hula, or hula teacher, ‘Iliahi Paredes, alongside his wife Kumu Hula Haunani Paredes, share their deep love for hula together and have both been dancing since the age of three. “Hula grips one by the na‘au [gut]. Once you fall in love with hula, the love is everlasting. Hula emanates from your center and leads a hula practitioner in every aspect of his [or] her life. When we go about our day, each step that we take and every move that we make has grace and fluidity. That’s how a hula person functions,” Kumu ‘Iliahi said. Born and raised on O‘ahu, Kumu ‘Iliahi hails from a big family of seven siblings, he being the youngest. He is also a graduate of Kamehameha Kapālama and alumnus of the University of


Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Hawaiian studies and a juris doctorate degree in law. He is a deputy prosecuting attorney for the County of Maui.

Beach Hotel and also placed first in the solo chant division at the 28th Annual King Kamehameha Hula Competition in 2001. The two performed in a lot of hula shows together

“Once you fall in love with hula, the love is everlasting,”

-Kumu ‘Iliahi Paredes

His other half, Kumu Haunani, was born and raised on the island of Maui in Kihei and graduated from Baldwin High School. They have won both individual awards and awards together as a hālau. Kumu ‘Iliahi was Master Keiki Hula in 1987 at the Queen Lili‘uokalani Keiki Hula Competion and was also named Mr. World Hula in 1994 at E Ho‘i Mai I Ka Piko Hula, The World Invitational Hula Festival. Kumu Haunani was named Miss Hula O Nā Keiki in 1991 at Kā‘anapali

and had always admired one another. As their friendship progressed, so did the love they had for each other. They started dating in 1999 and were married in 2003. With the blessings of both Kumu Keali‘i Reichel and Kumu Uluwehi Guerrero in 2004, they started their own hālau on Maui and named it Kekuaoakala‘au‘ala‘iliahi, a name with great meaning and significance. The name of the hālau is actually Kumu ‘Iliahi’s great-great-grandfather on his maternal side. It translates to “the chopper of the

fragrant sandalwood,” which refers to the kanaka, or people, who were sent by ali‘i, or chiefs, to gather the precious and valuable sandalwood for trade. “To us, the names refer to family. It is a symbol of strength, hard work, and perseverance. Tūtū [grandpa] Kekuaokala‘au‘ala‘iliahi was a hardworking and industrious cowboy and taro farmer from Maunawili Valley on O`ahu. He raised his family in the valley. He was known to be very strict, but at the end of the day, his family always came first,” Kumu ‘Iliahi said. Shortly after the formation of their hālau, they had their first keiki or child, Kealohapau‘ole, in 2005. She is now a fourth grader at Kamehameha Maui, and the Paredes also have a fouryear-old son, Pua‘iliahi. “It would be great to have them continue in our footsteps, but if not, we know that we have touched many hearts and lives already with our teachings,” Kumu ‘Iliahi said. Both kumu, have been affected by their past kumu hula and their teachings. Kumu ‘Iliahi, said his kumu, O’Brian Eselu, impacted (MASTERS cont. on facing page)

Nā Kumu Hauanani and ‘Iliahi Paredes are prepared backstage at Edith Kanaka’ole Stadium. (MASTERS from previous page)

him the most because of his influence on kane, or male, hula throughout his hula career. ‘Iliahi has also performed under his direction at Merrie Monarch. Kumu Haunani believes that all her kumu have also made a huge impact on her dancing and teaching, especially the time she spent learning under Aunty Pat Namaka Bacon. “It was Aunty Pat who brought out the beauty and balance in being both a dancer and a teacher – that teaching hula is about nurturing the mind, body and soul,” Kumu Haunani said. Kekuaokala‘au‘ala‘iliahi participated in the prestigious Merrie Monarch hula competition for their fourth

year, but it was the first year that they entered in the wahine, or women’s, category. “To participate at Merrie Monarch is a privilege, and we take this privilege seriously. We ask our haumāna [students] to commit to the journey. The hula and Merrie Monarch deserve the best, and we do our best to be totally prepared for the task at hand,” Kumu ‘Iliahi said. In 2014 and 2013, the men placed fourth in the Hula ‘Auana category, and in 2013, the men placed second in the Kahiko division. This year, neither group placed in the top levels. For any hālau, the preparation for such an event is an intense and time-consuming process, and although tough, the end result is definitely rewarding.

Photo courtesy of Kahu Kalani Wong

“We learn so much about the hula and our culture through our preparation. Most importantly, we learn about ourselves. It’s always a constant challenge to balance life while preparing for Merrie Monarch. We learn about our strengths and our weaknesses, and we celebrate all things that make us stronger,” Kumu ‘Iliahi said. For some, the commitment to hula is too much, and they come and go. “It’s just the nature of the beast. It’s important that we give everyone the opportunity to learn, and if they stay, wonderful; if they don’t stay, we wish them well and encourage them to seek hula elsewhere,” Kumu ‘Iliahi said. But those who commit learn more than just hula.

Leimakamae Kea, Kamehameha Maui senior and student of Hālau Kekuaokala‘au‘ala‘iliahi, recently won the title of Miss Hula O Nā Keiki in November at Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel. “They [kumu hula] teach us morals like any other sport would, such as teamwork. They also teach us Hawaiian values that we can apply to our everyday lives to be better people. I stay because I’m inspired by their dancing and their mana‘o about everything,” Kea said. Kumu ‘Iliahi said that as they prepare for the Merrie Monarch competition, they keep in mind something their beloved Aunty Pat Namaka Bacon once said: “Hula is the most beautiful when it is surrounded by love.”


The annual Merrie Monarch Festival hosts thousands of people every year. Some travel from outer islands, whereas others travel all the way from Japan.

Merrie Monarch’s dance through history by faith owan, staff writer


The Merrie Monarch Festival has been around for 52 years, and here in Hawai‘i, most seem to think of it as a hula competition; however, it wasn’t always this way. The festival has evolved, and didn’t start off as the intense hula contest people have become accustomed to. It went from light-hearted fun to a more vibrant cultural experience, both of which embody the characteristics of the royal after whom the celebration was named. King David Kalākaua reigned in Hawai‘i from 1874 to 1891 and was known as the Merrie Monarch due to his contribution to the revival of Hawaiian arts, such as music, chant and dance, as well as Hawaiian mythology and medicine. Due to his well-known passion for keeping Hawaiian culture alive, the Merrie Monarch Festival was dedicated to his memory. “Kalākaua really was, of

all the more modern rulers, he was the biggest advocate for hula and chanting, and not just that, but the performances, and the perpetuation of it. So, I think that’s why we as hula people, we love Kalākaua because he never once told us to, you know, put that away or to

seeking a way for Hawai‘i to attract tourists following an economic downfall, the result of the decline of the sugar cane industry. She sent her administrative assistant and promoter of activities to the Lahaina Whaling Spree on Maui to look for ideas. By 1964, the Merrie

“We love Kalākaua because he never once told us to ... put [hula] away or to hide it,”

-Kumu Cherissa Henoheapuaikawaokele Kāne hide it,” Kumu Cherissa Henoheanapuaikawaokele Kāne said. “Kumu Heno” is a Hawaiian teacher at Kamehameha Schools Maui and Miss Aloha Hula 2009. The idea for the festival sprang up in 1963 on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. Helene Hale, who was the Executive Officer of Hawai‘i (Big Island mayor) at the time, was

Monarch Festival consisted of a contest for a King Kalākaua beard look-alikes, barbershop quartet contest, relay race, re-enacting of Kalākaua’s coronation and speeches, Holokū Ball, and other events. The jubilee was previously held at Kalākaua Park and the Hilo Armory. This lasted for about four years, until 1968 when Mer-

rie Monarch began to struggle and was on the brink of being suspended. In a year, however, a new Executive Director, Dottie Thompson, took the lead and steered the festival towards a more Hawaiian, cultural, and overallhula-centered event. “So the founders…their intentions [were] to have a festival in which everybody would come and dance hula, but more in celebration of Kalākaua. And then from there it kind of just took off,” Kumu Heno said. In 1971, the hula competition aspect of the festival was brought in, with nine women’s hālau entered. Following this, in 1976, men were allowed to compete as well, and the festival began to gain popularity. The hula aspect of the festival consists of ‘auana and kahiko hālau performances, as well as an annual Miss (MONARCH cont. on facing page)

Everyone around the world wants a taste of the renowned hula competition held in Hilo, Hawai’i, every April. (MONARCH from previous page)

Aloha Hula solo competition. Hālau are required to submit fact sheets detailing their performances, like how many dancers, chanters, singers, musicians, types of instruments, leis, and costumes there are, and the words, translations, and personal interpretation of each mele. Kumu Heno said that this makes it so that participating hālau must go above just the hula and look deeper into the cultural history and aspect of what they are presenting. “The best of the best of the best dancers, kumu hula, musicians and judges are chosen to be on that stage, it is a privilege and an honor to be asked to participate in the festival,” Kumu Heno said. Today, the Merrie Monarch Festival now has art fairs, hula shows, a parade through Hilo Town, and, of course, a hula competition held at Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium, which is televised in Hawai‘i and broadcast online around the world.

Photo by Maile Sur


Mae Kamāmalu Klein reflects on judging by kainoa deguilmo, staff writer

Judging plays a crucial role at Merrie Monarch because it determines the winners. Mae Klein Kamāmalu is one of the judges this year. She was born on May 14, 1932, and raised by nuns in an orphanage on Gulick Avenue in Kalihi, and in 1959, she was introduced to hula. At first she questioned her kumu hula, Aunty Maiki Aiu Lake, on the true meaning behind being Hawaiian. She wondered how that applied to her, espcecially since haole nuns had raised her, but through hula, everything made sense to her. She describes judging as “a wonderful experience, very nerve-wracking, anxious.” She said that the Merrie Monarch Festival is “a real eye opener for hula, and not all knowledge comes from one hālau.” When many hālau come together, everyone can learn something.

Mae Kamāmalu Klein Throughout her years as a judge, she has seen some impressive performances. The power of one of them even caused a hālau to withdraw from competition. “There was a past Merrie Monarch performance that spoke of the Four Winds done with pahu that caused the lights to go out before the intermission.” After that, Hālau Mõhala ‘Ilima, who was next to perform, pulled out of the competition. She also has many wonderful memories from her time at the festival. “One time, [Kumu Hula]

Keali’i Rachel brought his heavy-set women,” Klein said. “They showed such gracefulness in their movements. Another time, Lealoha Amina’s hālau had her ladies in white holokū with burgundy plumeria and did Mi Nei.” Klein is no stranger to judging hula events. She has judged at Merrie Monarch for five years and also at the Kamehameha Competition for nine years. She was also a judge at Keiki Hula in Japan for eight years. She was appointed as a judge by Luana Kawelu, the president of Merrie Monarch. The judging is based on observation of the hula and its artistry. Klein said she looks forward to seeing each hālau holding onto what is Hawaiian, remembering their mannerisms and holding onto the tradition.


How it’s made: Pā’ū Lauhala by quinn williams, staff writer

Hālau dancer Isaac Kala has spent a fair share of his time preparing, making and practicing for the big performance on April 8, also known as the Merrie Monarch Festival. A large part of the dance is the intricate costumes, and the men of his hālau, Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘iliahi, make their own. Costumes are a reflection of the mele or music the hālau perform, too. “Our song/mele takes us to the Hāna side of the island, where it is abundant in lauhala,” Kala said. As a result, lauhala is being used as the main material for this year’s competition skirts. The official name of the type of skirt is pā‘ū lauhala, and according to Kala, it is the result of a long and slow process. First, hula dancers strip and shred a roll of lauhala

using razors arranged like a ribbon shredder. This allows the skirt to move as the dancers dance. Second, the strips of lauhala are soaked in water to be softened. A piece of string serves as the waistline. Pieces of lauhala are folded over it and tied to stay in place. After the hala leaves are secured to the waistline, they are cut to length according to the height of the dancer. Approximately 150 pieces of lauhala are layered to make a skirt, which makes them quite heavy. Prior to picking the lauhala, the hālau does ritual thanking prayers in which they ask for smooth things to come. “Stripping takes the longest because we have to go piece at a time,” Kala said. It could take 3-4 hours to make one or two skirts, if working non-stop.

Photo used courtesy of Kelsey Galago Aunty Gloria Ululani Helekahi Park, Kelsey Galago’s aunty, is separating the lauhala to be stripped and made into Galago’s kahiko skirt.

On the day before the competition, the men of the hālau went out to to soak their lauhala skirts in a tidepool in Keaukaha, Hawai’i.


maui ............................. made ......... by destinee murray, staff writer

Karlee Chong-Kee

14 School:

Kamehameha Schools Maui, freshman Hālau: Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘iliahi Nā Kumu: ‘Iliahi and Haunani Paredes

How long: 7 years How did you start: I would al-

ways watch Merrie Monarch on TV and I would dance with them. Then later, my mom asked several halaus when they were going to have openings, and no one responded. After my mom found an article in the newspaper for a halau accepting enrollment, I started dancing.

Favorite mele or oli: Ka ‘Oi O Nā Pua

Favorite dance: Pua Kiele by Josh

Tatofi because his voice is amazing Hula Goals: One day, compete as Miss Aloha Hula at the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival

Favorite hula memory:

Being soloist and competing in the Hula O Nā Keiki competition in Ka‘anapali in 2009.

Best part about dancing:

Hula has been a passion of mine since I was 7 years old. The reason I love hula is because you get to explore your Hawaiian culture and deepen your appreciation for it. You get to share your emotions and culture throughout each dance that you do.

First Merrie Monarch:

The journey to our first year in Merrie Monarch was a journey to remember. I got closer to many of my hula brothers and hula sisters. Even though at some parts we struggled, we made it fun and made it memorable.

Hardest move you can pull off: Well hula a noho is really complicated because you need the strength to get up and down from your knees to keep on dancing.


Photo by Maile Sur

Isaac Kala



Kamehameha Schools Maui, senior


Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘iliahi

Nā Kumu:

‘Iliahi and Haunani Paredes

How long: 3 years How did you start:

My father joined the hālau first, and then I followed. Favorite mele or oli: Mālie O Maui Ke Waiho Mai Lā because the chant talks about Maui… it’s telling everyone who hears this chant that you don’t know Maui until you’ve experienced the life here. Hula goals: Become hula strong. Take in and learn as much mana‘o as I can from my kumu. Favorite hula memory: Definitely after the Merrie Monarch competition the feeling of relief that all of the boys had. We had fun back at the house because there was a waterfall and pond where we jumped from. We all had a fun time. Best part about dancing: Knowing that I am perpetuating our Hawaiian culture. I learn many things from my kumu, and I realize that I have a kuleana to spread our culture through our dance.

First Merrie Monarch:

My first Merrie Monarch experience was breathtaking and nerve-wracking, but knowing that you have good people and your hula brothers by your side and supporting you, it is comforting. Favorite hula type: I like kahiko because it’s traditional and talks about the history and it’s an old style of dancing. Favorite move(s): A super low ‘ami like from Mālie O Maui because it’s pretty hard and if you pull it off, it looks really cool.

Hardest move you can pull off: The ‘ami from Mālie O Maui.

Photo by Maile Sur


Leimakamae Kea

18 School:

Kamehameha Schools Maui, senior Hālau: Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘iliahi Nā Kumu: ‘Iliahi and Haunani Paredes

How long: 10 years How did you start:

It was advertised on the radio

Favorite mele or oli:

Hoe Puna I Ka Wa‘a because in our choreography, we use a pahu drum as the instrument instead of an ipu and I love that sound.

Favorite dance:

My Sweet Gardenia Lei because it was my solo song for Hula O Nā Keiki and it talks about the gardenia flower being one of the main symbols of my favorite era, late 1940’s in Hawai‘i. Hula goals: I want to be Miss Aloha Hula one day.

Best part about dancing:

I have a second family, and I am connected to my culture.

First Merrie Monarch:

On my first Merrie Monarch journey, we experienced physical pain in our leg muscles from dancing our mele over and over, but for our costumes, we were able to gather different lā‘au to dye our kahiko costumes, and this was a wonderful bonding experience with my hula sisters.

Favorite hula type:

I like kahiko because we sow strength and grace while ‘auana shows grace alone.

Favorite move(s):

I think all moves are important because it’s just like any other sport. You need to know the basics to make a good combination.

Hardest move you can pull off: Personally, it’s hard for me to do an ‘ami kūkū on the left side.

Photo by Maile Sur


Crystal Hipolito School:


Kamehameha Schools Maui, senior Hālau: Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka Kumu: Napua Greig

How long: 13 years How did you start: My grandma

Photo courtesy of Crystal Hipolito

was a hula dancer, and she really wanted her granddaughters to become hula dancers. So, she asked if there was a way for my cousin and me to join the hālau that I continue to dance in today. Favorite mele or oli: No Uka Ke Aloha by Kamaka Kukona because it was written for our hālau, our kumu, and her mom. Hula goals: My ultimate hula goal is to never stop learning. I want to continue to dance and perpetuate the Hawaiian culture as I get older. Favorite hula memory: I have had many hula memories throughout my 13 years of dancing, so choosing one is difficult. Some of my favorite hula memories come from preparing for competition because I have a lot of bonding time with my hula sisters and kumu. Best part about dancing: The best part about dancing hula is knowing that our Hawaiian culture is continuing to thrive. We, as hula practitioners, retell mo‘olelo that has been passed down from our ancestors. Those mo‘olelo are the foundation to our Hawaiian people and are essential to both the culture and history of Hawai‘i. First Merrie Monarch: My first Merrie Monarch experience was definitely something unimaginable because I have only dreamt of dancing on the Merrie Monarch stage since I first started hula. It was, and still is, nerve wracking to listen to the hundreds of cheering hula fans as we wait for our turn to go on stage. No words could describe what it was like being up on that stage with my hula sisters and my kumu hula for the first time.


............. ............. Keiki can, too by ashley kahaiā morishita, staff writer

Photos courtesy of Kahu Kalani Wong Master and Miss Keiki Hula Kamaka Ho’opi’i (above), and Keaolani Hosino (right) dance during the 2014 Keiki Hula Competition on O’ahu. Kamaka Ho‘opi‘i and Keaolani Hosino are two up-and-coming hula keiki. They dance for the same hula hālau, Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘illiahi under the direction of Nā Kumu ‘Iliahi and Haunani Paredes. (See “Maui Masters” page 12).

Kamaka Ho‘opi‘i


11-year-old Kamaka Ho‘opi‘i of Kahakuloa started dancing at eight years old, and at the end of the 39th Annual Queen Lili‘uokalani Keiki Hula Competition in

2013, his kumu hula chose him to represent their hālau in the Master Keiki Hula division in the next year’s contest. He won in 2014. “After winning the title for Master Keiki Hula 2014, I felt accomplished, and to me it meant that seven months of hard work and dedication with my Kumu Hula paid off on the Keiki Hula stage,” he said. The competition features talented keiki from 22 hula hālau from Hawai‘i island, Maui, Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and

Japan with roughly 400 keiki who showcase their hula skills. The competition lasts three days and is held at the Neal Blaisdell Arena on O‘ahu. The first night of competition begins with the solo division. Ho‘opi‘i said in order to be chosen as a contender by Nā Kumu Paredes, he needed good grades and good attendance in school and at papa hula, or hula practices. He also needed to be respectful to everyone and mālama, or take care of, his

hula brothers and sisters, as hula classmates are known. To prepare for these kinds of demanding competitions, hālau members adopt a practice called “kapu,” which means taboo or prohibition. The concept is the same as Lent. The types of things they give up for hula are more than just certain foods or drinks. Students must also give up social media or anything that distracts them from hula. (KEIKI continued on facing page)

reading anything to do with aviation. Hoopi‘i has a garden “I had to give up riding anything with wheels -- where he grows kalo, ti leaf, bike, skateboard, dirt bike, papaya, banana, coconut, even pogo sticks. I also had mountain apple, lime, avocato give up sugar and soda, do, and lychee. His family’s anything sweet basically,” goal is to incorporate more native plants on their propHo‘opi‘i said. Hula is more than just a erty in time. hobby. It’s a way for him to learn more about his Hawai- Keaolani Hosino ian culture and share his love Miss Keiki Hula 2014, for hula with others. 11-year-old Keaolani HosiHo‘opi‘i lives with his fa- no of Wai‘ehu, has been ther Keoni and mother Didi dancing for about eight and his three siblings -- his years. She started dancing eldest sister Kailani (24), for her aunt’s hālau at around Meleana (13), and his older the age of three. Since then, brother Nohea (15). she has also been dancing for His mother is strict when Hālau Kekuaokalā‘au‘ala‘iliit comes to technology use. ahi. “Living in Kahakukuloa, In order to have been our Internet doesn’t run very chosen by nā kumu, she had well. I limit the kids’ T.V. to attend every hula practime and make sure they do tice and memorize all ‘oli, or their chores, which involves chants, and hula. taking care of pigs, dogs, While observing kapu, cats, turtles, pigeons, and she gave up riding her bike chickens,” she said. and scooter, drinking soda, Aside from dancing, he’s and eating sweets, especially into drone engineering, sci- candy. ence, riding dirt bikes, pig “When it comes to dancfarming, and watching and ing hula, what I enjoy most (KEIKI from previous page)

“I laid everything I had out on the stage, and when I won, I was all good again,” -Keaolani Hosino

about it is being on stage. I always look forward to going to practice and seeing my friends and my kumu,” Hosino said. Hosino lives with her parents, Brad and Malia Hosino along with her four siblings -- brothers Kaleohano (18) and Lamakūokana‘auao (16) and sisters Pi‘ikea (13) and Kailiwai (7). “She loves singing,” her mother said. Also when she doesn’t have hula, she enjoys riding her bike, writing poems, and hanging out at the Boys & Girls Club in Paukūkalo. Hosino said it was a “blessing” to have been chosen to represent her hālau at the 2014 Keiki Hula Competition. “After I found out I was chosen, during the seven months of preparation, I always asked myself, ‘What if I actually win?’” she said. Her emotions after winning Miss Keiki Hula 2014 are captured perfectly in this response: “All of the anxiety and anxiousness I carried

around with me during those seven months of preparation suddenly went away. I felt a big sense of relief and happiness. I wasn’t stressing out anymore. I laid everything I had out on the stage, and when I won, I was all good again.” Hosino said her hula goal is “Merrie Monarch because it’s always been a dream of mine. I would love to dance on that stage and hopefully represent my hālau once more, but in the Miss Aloha Hula Competition.” At one point or another, every child living in Hawaii has tried hula, whether in elementary school for May Day, in a Hawaiian Culture class, or for an actual hula hālau. Hula is an integral part of Hawaii. For the most dedicated, making their way to the “big boy” stage at Merrie Monarch where many legendary hula dancers have left their mark tells them they’ve made it. In the years to come, we may just see Ho‘opi‘i and Hosino there.

Photo courtesy of Kahu Kalani Wong

Hālau keikikāne placed second in ‘auana at Keiki Hula 2013. Ho’opi’i is in the second row, second from the right. After this, he was invited to compete for Master Keiki Hula.



Profile for Ka Leo o Na Koa

Na koa issue 4, summer 2015  

Nā Koa, Na Koa magazine focuses on the 2015 Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. Kelsey Galago, Uilani Tanigawa, Isaac Kala, Leimakamae Kea, Kamaka...

Na koa issue 4, summer 2015  

Nā Koa, Na Koa magazine focuses on the 2015 Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. Kelsey Galago, Uilani Tanigawa, Isaac Kala, Leimakamae Kea, Kamaka...