For any of you who know my family (and particularly our daughter), you will know that the last few months for her have been filled with the excitement of hula as she and halau partake in the annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo, Hawaii. Hula has been an incredible part of her life for the past 22 years and this being the first time in several that she is returning to competition with her kumus and hula sisters for the 50th Anniversary of the festival is something that we are all so proud of .
If any of you are avid hula lovers or those of you who are new to hula, this is one weekend you won't want to miss. Starting this evening on KFVE, their Backstage at The Merrie Monarch will be aired sharing incredible wonderful Ho'ike performances (of which our beloved Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka will be performing as well). Tomorrow night (Thursday) is the coveted Miss Aloha Hula solo competition (we will be cheering on the halau's beautiful soloist Manalani English, #4), Friday is the men and women's group Kahiko performances (Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka is #13 this night and the last) and Saturday is the group Auana performances and awards ceremony. We are excited to support the halau as they embark on their journey to competition and share the beauty and pride so prevalent here on Maui, and of course to us as their family who are so proud of the dedication of our children.
And fear not, for those of you not currently in Hawaii to watch the competition locally, as it is livestreamed over the internet as well. For more details, check out the official Merrie Monarch website or the KFVE website for information on the livestream. Wishing the halau the best of luck as well as their fellow Maui halau who will no doubt represent the island with pride, we will surely be enjoying a full weekend of incredible hula!
For those of you who may not know, I am the mother of a hula dancer. For 20 of her 25 years my daughter has grown up heavily immersed in hula and Hawaiian culture, one of her greatest passions in life. She began dancing at the age of 5, began dancing competitively in statewide hula competitions with her halau at the age of 13, as well as professionally in private lu'au shows as well as traveling with the Maui Visitors Bureau. Hula has always been one of the biggest parts of her life, and our family has taken such great pride in supporting her through her journey as a dancer as it has greatly shaped her into the woman she is today.
Her dream since high school has been to compete as a soloist in the Merrie Monarch Festival, which is the most prestigious hula competition in the world, often considered the 'Olympics of Hula' so to speak. My husband and I have had the privilege of attending this wonderful competition the 3 times our daughter has competed, the last of which when she finally realized her dream and represented her halau as a Miss Aloha Hula soloist. It was the challenge and dream of a lifetime for her, and was a moment our family will never forget watching her brave that stage, those lights and cameras and for the thousands of people throughout the world who were watching over the internet livestream. It was a dream come true for us to watch her live her dream come true.
Since then she has allowed herself the opportunity to focus on mastering other passions that have called to her, but hula has and will continue to be a big part of her heart. Thus this past weekend it was wonderful for us to enjoy the Merrie Monarch Festival from the comforts of home with her, as she giddily tweeted after each number and was truly inspired by each performance. It is one of the many gifts we are so fortune to enjoy here in Hawaii, and continues to touch my heart not only by watching Merrie Monarch, but knowing how deeply it moves my daughter...for no matter where she goes, or how many years may pass, I know hula will always live in her heart.
For those of you who may have missed the festivities, you can check out this year's many wonderful performances on the KFVE website or youtube videos of years' past to enjoy one of the many beautiful parts of our island culture.