For the 2011 hula competition, hālau have been working feverishly to perfect their dances, complete costumes, and make final preparations. Soon they will be flying to Hilo where thousands of hula fans will converge during the Merrie Monarch Festival!
Many hālau have gone on trips to the famous places in their mele. On Kauaʻi, Kumu Hula Kapu Kinimaka took her dancers to the uplands of Kōkeʻe. And, Kumu Hula Hōkūlani and Larry De Rego took their hālau to visit Puʻu Poliʻahu at the summit of Mauna Kea.
Kumu Hula Kaleo Trinidad (Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka Lā) reports, “Right now what we are trying to do is finish up all our last minute things. We just finished our blocking and how we are getting in and out. And we’re really hitting what we want to see. You know the technical stuff takes a long time – so right now it’s all about bringing the story forth in their face and expressions. We’re really set. There is pressure but we’re ready.”
“Girls have already gone to Hilo - already practiced on the stage. They are making their ti-leaf skirts now. We’re doing last minute details that have to be done or need to be changed because it has to be perfect. The girls are excited but the feeling is like ‘we just want to get to Hilo because it is really hard to concentrate on anything else now. We are just ready to be there. We want to go and do what we are prepared to do," says Kumu Hula Napua Makua (Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka).
For participating hālau, this is just part of their lifelong mission to perpetuate hula. Of the many hula events and competitions held throughout the year, the Merrie Monarch Festival is considered to be the pinnacle.
Kumu Hula Keawe Lopes (Ka Lā ʻŌnohi Mai O Haʻehaʻe) says, “You know, being part of Merrie Monarch, being part of hālau is not something that I’ve ever taken for granted, and I hope that you know, our students never take for granted too. It’s like training for the Olympics, like everybody says. We always say, ‘how do Olympians get as good as they are?’ It’s because they take time to practice, and they love what they do.”