Star-Bulletin Features



Hula for the king

Oahu's version of the Big Isle's
Merrie Monarch Festival
sways into action tonight
at the Neal Blaisdell Center

Where, when, who

By Keiko Kiele Akana-Gooch

In homage to Hawaii's first king, the 29th annual King Kamehameha Hula Competition takes place today and tomorrow at the Neal Blaisdell Center Arena.

As Oahu's version of the world-renowned Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo, the Kamehameha Hula Competition is also unique to the hula world for its kupuna (older generation), combined (male and female) and oli (Hawaiian chant) categories.

Other categories include Hawaiian language for both kahiko (ancient hula) and 'auana (modern hula), and kahiko and 'auana group dance competition for men and women.

Nineteen halau from Maui and Oahu, and as far away as California and Japan, will participate in the two-day event.

Tonight's portion begins at 6 p.m.; tomorrow's portion starts at 1 p.m. with the awards ceremony to follow.

The competition began in 1973 as a venue for Oahu halaus, many of which could not afford to compete at Merrie Monarch.

"I felt Oahu needed a premier hula competition," said Keahi Allen, Kamehameha competition founder, owner and director.

She has no plans to further expand the competition nor add an individual dance performance category, like Merrie Monarch's Miss Aloha Hula competition.

"I think people come to see groups rather than individuals," Allen said.

The Kamehameha Hula Competition -- Oahu's longest-running international hula competition -- has been adopted in Tokyo for the past several years.

"They're really radically different," Allen said, with the Japanese competition having only a hula 'auana category for women and kupuna.

The Japanese cannot seem to get enough of the Kamehameha competition, with a majority of the pre-sale tickets on Oahu bought by Japanese groups.

Halaus cannot get enough either, with at least 40 schools from the islands and 10 from the mainland on the waiting list for the Oahu competition.

Allen would not disclose the names of the judges but said, "I try to pick the judges that are of the older generation because I think their wisdom is valuable to us."

Halaus are scored on presentation including expression, vitality, posture, foot or body movement and hand gestures; group presentation, including tempo and rhythm; appropriate style of dance, which is based on the song; costume; adornments; personal appearance; and overall interpretation.

Chanters and musicians are judged on language, enunciation and sound presentation, forcing them to research their songs. "The musicians have bothered to get the right information," Allen said.

Winners are given perpetual trophies, including pahu (drums), plaques, bowls and quilt patterns.

The competition is mostly self-sustaining, with costs paid for by ticket sales. Participating halaus must sell a minimum of 50 tickets each night they perform. All profits from the competition go to the State Council on Hawaiian Heritage, the sole sponsor of the event, which costs about $30,000 to produce.

The annual competition has been making a meager profit, said Allen, who is also the executive director of the council. "The first time we would end up in the red, I would think seriously about giving up!"


Time to dance

29th King Kamehameha Hula Competition

Where: Blaisdell Arena
When: 6 p.m. today and 1 p.m. tomorrow
Admission: $8.50 to $20 per person per day
Call: State Council on Hawaiian Heritage at 536-6540

Dancing for the king

Here is the list of halau participating in the King Kamehameha Hula Competition:


Halau O Kea'a'li'i Ku Makani Manu Boyd Kaneohe

Halau I Ka Wekiu Michael Casupang & Karl Veto Baker Honolulu

Ka Pa Lehua Lehua Hulihe'e & Doreen Doo Honolulu

Halau Ke'alaokamaile Keali'i Reichel Wailuku, Maui

Ka Hale I 'O Kahala Leimomi Maldonado Honolulu

Halau Keali'i O Nalani Keali'i Ceballos Los Angeles

Keaolalaulani Halau 'Olapa O Laka Aloha Dalire Kaneohe

Halau Mehanaokala Ku'uleinani Hashimoto Tokyo

Keali'ika'apunihonua Ke'ena A'o Hula Leimomi Ho Honolulu

Ka Pa Hula O Ka Lani Kalani Akana Honolulu

Hu'i Park Hula Studio Kepo'omaikalani Park Honolulu

Na Pualei O Likolehua Leina'ala Kalama Heine Honolulu

Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka Napua Greig Pukalani, Maui

Halau Na Wainohia Tony Conjugacion Honolulu

Halau O Ka Manu Hula Le'a Kayoko Hendy Yokohama, Japan

Hula Halua Kahula O Hawai'i Kyoko Kubokawa Tokyo

Halau Mohalau 'Ilima Mapuana deSilva Kailua

Ke Ali'i O Ka Malu Derek Nu'uhiwa Wai'anae and Tokyo

Do It Electric
Click for online
calendars and events.

E-mail to Features Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin