The Merrie Monarch Festival is a week-long cultural festival that takes place annually in Hilo, Hawaii during the week after Easter. It honors King David Kalākaua, who was called the "Merrie Monarch" for his patronage of the arts and is credited with restoring many Hawaiian cultural traditions during his reign, including the hula. Many hālau hula (schools), including some from the U.S. mainland and some international performers, attend the festival each year to participate in exhibitions and competitions. The festival has received worldwide attention and is considered the most prestigious of all hula contests.
Merrie Monarch week begins Easter Sunday every year. The competitive hula events end the week, and occur on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; they are televised and live-streamed online by KHII-TV (formerly KFVE/K5). In 2019 the competitive events run April 25–27.
The festival is dedicated to the memory of King David Kalākaua, the last king of the Kingdom of Hawaii, who reigned from 1874 until his death in 1891. Kalākaua was “a patron of the arts, especially music and dance,” and is credited with reviving many endangered native Hawaiian traditions such as mythology, medicine, and chant. He was also a strong supporter of the hula, a traditional form of dance. Many of these cultural practices "had been suppressed for many years under missionary teachings." The festival is named after Kalākaua's nickname “Merrie Monarch” because he was known to always be happy, fun, and loving towards his people. The structure of the festival takes after Kalākaua’s Silver Jubilee. This was a two-week celebration of Hawaiian culture on his 50th birthday (1886) at ʻIolani Palace on the island of Oʻahu.
The Merrie Monarch Festival began in 1963 when Helene Hale, then Executive Officer of Hawaii, decided to create an event to increase tourism to the Island of Hawaii. The island had suffered from economic problems after the collapse of the sugar industry, and it was hoped that a festival would boost the depressed economy. Along with George Naʻope and Gene Wilhelm, Hale organized the first Merrie Monarch Festival in 1964. This festival “consisted of a King Kalākaua beard look–alike contest, a barbershop quartet contest, a relay race, a re–creation of King Kalākaua's coronation, and a Holoku Ball among other events.”
George Naʻope was a well known Kumu Hula (teacher of Hawaiian dance) throughout the whole world. He studied hula from his great grandmother since he was three years old and established his own hula school, the George Naʻope Hula School, shortly after graduating high school. He taught hula in Japan, Guam, Australia, Germany, England, and both North and South America. His purpose in life was to preserve the Hawaiian culture, and he thought the festival was a perfect way of allowing the culture live on.
By 1968, the festival had waned in popularity. Dottie Thompson took over the festival as Executive Director, and transformed it into a private community organization. Thompson “wanted to move the festival more toward a Hawaiian theme,” a goal that was accomplished by centering the festival events around hula. In 1971 Thompson and Na’ope introduced a hula competition. Nine wahine (female) hālau entered the competition in its first year, and in 1976 the festival opened the competition to kāne (male) hālau.
Today, the Merrie Monarch Festival is an annual week–long event culminating in three days of prestigious hula competition. It is now a non–profit organization registered with the State of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Proceeds from the festival support educational scholarships, workshops, seminars, symposiums and the continuation of the event itself.
For the festival, a Royal Court is created to represent the King and Queen and their family. The Royal Court is coordinated by Uʻilani Peralto and Luana Kawelu. Prior to the Merrie Monarch Festival, Uʻilani and Luana search for a male and female to portray King Kalākaua and Queen Kapiʻolani. Uʻilani says, “the selection committee looks to find two individuals who exemplify maturity, humility, and pride in the Hawaiian culture.” Just like the Hālau’s who enter the competition, those who represent the royal court are carefully selected for the event. The court consists of 22 members total, typically represented by friends and family of the chosen king and queen. The rest of the royal court includes a counselor, kahu (caretaker), ladies-in-waiting, kahili bearers, chanters, and pu kane (conch shell blowers). Each person in the royal court is educated about their roles and Kalākaua’s mission. These people who make up the Royal Court represent more than just Hawaiian history, but the Hawaiian spirit that continuously flows throughout the islands.
The Merrie Monarch Festival occurs annually in the spring. It runs from Easter Sunday morning to Saturday evening.
The first four days of the festival consist of free, non–competition events. These include performances by local and international halau at many venues around Hilo, as well as an arts and crafts fair. The Wednesday Ho'ike Night Free exhibition is very popular, and often features international hālau from other Pacific islands and Japan, and native or indigenous dancers and dances from locations such as Alaska and New Zealand. A final non–competition event, the Merrie Monarch Parade, takes place on Saturday morning.
The festivities culminate in the annual competitions held at the Edith Kanakaʻole Multipurpose Stadium in Hoʻolulu Park. Dancers perform individually and in groups, with seven minutes allowed for each performance.
Thursday night is the first competition event. Individual female dancers compete for the title of Miss Aloha Hula. Dancers perform in both modern (hula ʻauana) and traditional (hula kahiko) forms of hula, as well as chant (oli).
Miss Aloha Hula is hula's top solo wahine, or women's, honor. Originally known as Miss Hula, the title was later changed to Miss Aloha Hula. Aloha Dalire, a kumu hula and hula dancer, won the first Miss Aloha Hula under her maiden name, Aloha Wong, in 1971.
Saturday night features hālau performing modern style hula. Awards are also announced on Saturday night.
During their performances hālau and individuals are judged in a variety of categories. First, there is the entrance (kaʻi). During their chant (oli) and dance (hula), judges look for interpretation of the song being performed, expression of the hula, chant, or song, posture, precision, hand gestures, feet and body movement, grooming, and authenticity of costume and adornments. Finally there is the exit off stage (hoʻi). Performers are scored on each aspect of the performance.
Many believe that the Merrie Monarch Festival “brought about a renaissance of Hawaiian culture.” The festival identifies four goals related to Hawaiian culture: “1) Perpetuating the traditional culture of the Hawaiian people; 2) Developing and augmenting a living knowledge of Hawaiian arts and crafts through workshops, demonstrations, exhibitions and performances of the highest quality and authenticity; 3) Reaching those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate; and, 4) Enriching the future lives of all of Hawaii's children,” and claims that through the festival “thousands of people in Hawaii and throughout the world are learning about the history and culture of Hawaii.”  The Merrie Monarch Festival “has received worldwide recognition for its historic and cultural significance.” 
For some hālau, the festival does not end after the competition is over. Those who place in the competition are then invited to attend the Nā Hiwahiwa Festival in Tokyo, Japan. This festival includes Merrie Monarch Festival winners and Nā Hōku Hanohano winners. This festival is a celebration of the Hawaiian dancers and singers who received award-winning recognition in these competitions. Japan is one of the biggest supporters in the world of hula and the Hawaiian culture. Hula is a multi-million-dollar enterprise in Japan and there are over 100 hula schools all throughout Japan. Japanese hula schools do not compete in the Merrie Monarch Festival, but most of the schools travel to Hilo every year to support the hula hālau and experience the festivities Merrie Monarch has to offer.
The festival was first broadcast on local TV in 1981, when KITV brought the festival to homes across Hawaii. Coverage began as taped and edited highlight segments and eventually went live. KITV broadcast the festival for 29 years; in 2009, Luana Kawelu, who had recently taken over the job of president of the Merrie Monarch Festival, signed a deal with competitor KFVE to broadcast the festival in 2010 and beyond.
Fabianne Pomaialoha Wong Dalire, known professionally as Aloha Dalire, (June 22, 1950 – August 6, 2014) was an American Hawaiian kumu hula, or master hula teacher. She won the first Miss Aloha Hula as Aloha Wong, in 1971, the same year that the Merrie Monarch Festival was established. The Miss Aloha Hula title is hula's top solo wahine (women's) honor.Dalire Wong was born on June 22, 1950, in Honolulu and raised in Kaneohe, Hawaii. She began studying hula dancing when she was just three years old under kumu hula master, George Na'ope. Her mother, Mary Keolalaulani McCabe Wong, founded Keolalaulani Halau 'Olapa O Laka, a hula school, in 1963. Aloha Dalire would later become the director of her mother's halau.Dalire won the first Miss Hula title, later known as Miss Aloha Hula, in 1971 under her maiden name, Aloha Wong. She pursued a career as a hula teacher, ultimately becoming a kumu hula, or hula master. She remained deeply involved with the Merrie Monarch Festival. She regularly entered her halau (hula school), Keolalaulani Halau 'Olapa O Laka, in the festival's competition for more than four decades. Her halau students often won or placed in the women's kahiko and auana categories at the festival. In 2013, Dalire's wahine won the hula auana, or modern hula competition. Dalire's three daughters also won the Miss Aloha Hula title: Kapualokeokalaniakea in 1991, Kau'imaiokalaniakea in 1992, and Keolalaulani in 1999. One of her granddaughters, "Kili" Lai, placed first runner-up at the Miss Aloha Hula competition in 2014.Culture of the Native Hawaiians
The culture of the Native Hawaiians is about 1,500 years old and has its origins in the Polynesians who voyaged to and settled Hawaii. These voyagers developed Hawaiian cuisine, Hawaiian art, and the Native Hawaiian religion.Dottie Thompson
Dorothy Mae Elizabeth Soares Thompson (May 16, 1921 – March 19, 2010), widely known as Auntie Dottie, was an American festival organizer, who is credited with co-founding and developing the Merrie Monarch Festival. The Merrie Monarch Festival, which is held in Hilo, is Hawaii's premier hula event. It was developed by Thompson and hula dancer, George Naʻope.Dorothy Mae Elizabeth Soares was born on May 16, 1921, the youngest of five children. As a sophomore in 1937 she was named best female athlete of Hilo High School. She graduated from President William McKinley High School in Honolulu in 1939. She had four children with her husband Ronald Saiki. Her second husband was George Thompson.Thompson served as the Merrie Monarch's executive director since 1968 with Naʻope. She remained the festival's head until her death in 2010. Thompson initially had to push hard for funds and media coverage during the festival's early years. Throughout her tenure as director of the festival, Thompson was careful to keep its main focus on hula. She kept admission prices low and resisted efforts to move Merrie Monarch from Hilo's Edith Kanaka'ole Tennis Stadium, where it has traditionally been held, to a larger facility.Mayor of Hawaii Billy Kenoi proclaimed February 13, 2010, as Auntie Dottie Thompson Day.Dorothy "Auntie Dottie" Thompson died from complications from pneumonia at the Hilo Medical Center in Hilo, Hawaii on March 19, 2010, at the age of 88.George Naʻope
George Lanakilakekiahialiʻi Naʻope (February 25, 1928 – October 26, 2009), born in Kalihi, Hawaiʻi and raised in Hilo, was a celebrated kumu hula, master Hawaiian chanter, and leading advocate and preservationist of native Hawaiian culture worldwide. He taught hula dancing for over sixty years in Hawaiʻi, Japan, Guam, Australia, Germany, England, North America, and South America.Naʻope was a scholar of ancient hula, which is hula developed and danced before 1893. He first studied hula at the age of three years under his great-grandmother, Mary Malia Pukaokalani Naʻope, who lived to be over 100 years old. At the age of four he began to study with Mary Kanaele, the mother and teacher of Edith Kanaka'ole. When he moved to Oʻahu at the age of ten, he studied for ten years with Joseph Ilalaʻole. After graduating from high school, Naʻope moved to Honolulu where he opened the George Naʻope Hula School, then later continued his studies under Kumu Hula Lokalia Montgomery and Tom Hiona.Naʻope began to teach hula at the age of thirteen. His family was poor, so he taught hula for fifty cents per week in order to continue to pay for school. He taught chant and kahiko to the Ray Kinney dancers, and traveled with Ray Kinney.In 1964, Naʻope founded the Merrie Monarch Festival, an annual week-long festival of traditional Hawaiian arts, crafts, and performances featuring a three-day hula competition. The festival became both a popular success and an important part of the Hawaiian Renaissance. In an interview Naʻope said of founding the festival, "I felt the hula was becoming too modern and that we have to preserve it. David Kalakaua [King of Hawaii, 1874–91; aka "The Merrie Monarch"] brought the hula back to Hawaii and made us realize how important it was for our people. There was nothing here in Hilo, so I decided to honor Kalakaua and have a festival with just hula. I didn't realize that it was going to turn out to be one of the biggest things in our state."
Naʻope was honored with numerous other awards, including being named a Living Treasure of Hawai'i by the Buddhist temple Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawai'i, "Treasure of Hawaiʻi" by President George W. Bush and the Smithsonian Institution, and receiving a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2006, which is the United States' highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.In 2007, Naʻope founded the Halau Hula Is Hawai'i Trust and Hula Is Hawai'i, LLC, and instructed his entire estate to be placed into his trust. Despite his Last Will and Testament, certain individuals went against his wishes.
Naʻope founded the Humu Moʻolelo, a quarterly journal of the hula arts.Hapa
Hapa is a transliteration of the English word "half," but quickly came to mean "part," combining with numbers to make fractions. For example, hapalua is half, hapaha is one-fourth, and hapanui means majority. In Hawaii, the word refers to any person of mixed ethnic heritage, regardless of the specific mixture. In California, the term is used for any person of East Asian or Southeast Asian admixture. Therefore, the two uses are concurrent.Hawaiian Renaissance
The First, Second, and Third Hawaiian Renaissance (also often called the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance) was the Hawaiian resurgence of a distinct cultural identity that draws upon traditional kānaka maoli culture, with a significant divergence from the tourism-based culture which Hawaiʻi was previously known for worldwide (along with the rest of Polynesia).Hilo, Hawaii
Hilo (; Hawaiian pronunciation: [ˈhilo]) is the largest town and census-designated place (CDP) in Hawaii County, Hawaii, United States, which encompasses the Island of Hawaiʻi. The population was 43,263 according to the 2010 census.Hilo is the county seat of the County of Hawaiʻi and is in the District of South Hilo. The town overlooks Hilo Bay, at the base of two shield volcanoes, Mauna Loa, an active volcano, and Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano. Mauna Kea is the site of some of the world's most important ground-based astronomical observatories. Much of the city is at risk from lava flows from Mauna Loa. The majority of human settlement in Hilo stretches from Hilo Bay to Waiākea-Uka, on the flanks of the volcano.
Hilo is home to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi, as well as the Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long celebration of ancient and modern hula that takes place annually after Easter. Hilo is also home to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation, one of the world's leading producers of macadamia nuts. The town is served by Hilo International Airport.Hoʻolulu
Hoʻolulu (1794–1844) was a member of the nobility during the formation of the Kingdom of Hawaii. He was a trusted advisor to King Kamehameha I, also known as "Kamehameha the Great", and was one of the select few to know his secret resting place. His descendants continue the tradition of guarding royal burials. A major cultural site in Hilo, Hawaii is named after him.Hula
Hula is a Polynesian dance form accompanied by chant (oli) or song (mele, which is a
cognate of "meke" from the Fijian language). It was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there. The hula dramatizes or portrays the words of the oli or mele in a visual dance form.
There are many sub-styles of hula, with the main two categories being Hula ʻAuana and Hula Kahiko. Ancient hula, as performed before Western encounters with Hawaiʻi, is called kahiko. It is accompanied by chant and traditional instruments. Hula, as it evolved under Western influence in the 19th and 20th centuries, is called ʻauana (a word that means "to wander" or "drift"). It is accompanied by song and Western-influenced musical instruments such as the guitar, the ʻukulele, and the double bass.
Terminology for two main additional categories is beginning to enter the hula lexicon: "Monarchy" includes any hula which were composed and choreographed during the 19th century. During that time the influx of Western culture created significant changes in the formal Hawaiian arts, including hula. "Ai Kahiko", meaning "in the ancient style" are those hula written in the 20th and 21st centuries that follow the stylistic protocols of the ancient hula kahiko.
There are also two main positions of a hula dance: either sitting (noho dance) or standing (luna dance). Some dances utilize both forms.
Hula dancing is a complex art form, and there are many hand motions used to represent the words in a song or chant. For example, hand movements can signify aspects of nature, such as the swaying of a tree in the breeze or a wave in the ocean, or a feeling or emotion, such as fondness or yearning. Foot and hip movements often pull from a basic library of steps including the kaholo, kaʻo, kawelu, hela, ʻuwehe, and ʻami.
There are other related dances (tamure, hura, 'aparima, 'ote'a, haka, kapa haka, poi, Fa'ataupati, Tau'olunga, and Lakalaka) that come from other Polynesian islands such as Tahiti, The Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand; however, the hula is unique to the Hawaiian Islands.Iolani Luahine
ʻIolani Luahine (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1978), born Harriet Lanihau Makekau, was a native Hawaiian kumu hula, dancer, chanter and teacher, who was considered the high priestess of the ancient hula. The New York Times wrote that she was "regarded as Hawaii's last great exponent of the sacred hula ceremony," and the Honolulu Advertiser wrote: "In her ancient dances, she was the poet of the Hawaiian people." The ʻIolani Luahine Hula Festival was established in her memory, and awards a scholarship award each year to encourage a student to continue the study of hula.KITV
KITV, virtual channel 4 (UHF digital channel 20), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. The station is owned by SJL Broadcasting. KITV's studios are located on South King Street in downtown Honolulu, and its main transmitter is located atop the Ala Moana Hotel in Honolulu.
On cable, KITV is available on Spectrum digital channel 4 and 1006 statewide. The station is also carried on Hawaiian Telcom channel 4 statewide.Kalani Pe'a
Kalani Peʻa (born April 13, 1983) is a two-time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter of Hawaiian music. He released his first album, E Walea, in 2016, which won the 2017 Grammy award for "Best Regional Roots Music Album". Peʻa released his second album, No ʻAneʻi, in 2018, which won the Grammy Award for Best Regional Roots Music Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards.
Peʻa is also an educator, a kanaka, and promotes Hawaiian language and culture. He is a supporter of Hawaiian language immersion school program.Kamaka Kūkona
Carlson Kamaka Kūkona, III (born 1978), otherwise simply known as Kamaka Kūkona, is a Hawaiian musician, vocalist, songwriter, record producer, kumu hula (hula teacher), and educator from Maui, Hawaii.
In 2013, after years of recording, Kūkona, released his debut album, Hanu ʻAʻala. The album later went on to earn the Male Vocalist of the Year and the Most Promising Artist awards at the 2014 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards. Kūkona is one of only six Hawaiian musicians to be awarded both awards on a debut music album.
The success of Hanu ʻAʻala earned a nomination in the 57th Annual Grammy Awards for the Best Regional Roots Music Album. At the time, Kūkona was the only Hawaiian music artist nominated for the category. Due to the merger of multiple regional roots music categories into the Best Regional Roots Music Award in 2011, Hanu ʻAʻala faced increasing odds in the category historically dominated by Louisiana Cajun music. The album ultimately did not win the Grammy Award.
In 2017, Kūkona released his sophomore album, ʻAla Anuhea, featuring a wonderful array of newly composed mele. The album was mixed and recorded by Dave Tucciarone of Seventh Wave Studio. Again, Kūkona was awarded the Male Vocalist of the Year award at the 2018 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards.Leina'ala Kalama Heine
Rebecca Leina'ala Kalama Heine (c. 1940 – September 9, 2015) was an American kumu hula and hula instructor. In 1976, Heine established Na Pualei O Likolehua, a nonprofit hālau which trains girls and young women in both hula and Hawaiian cultural traditions.Heine was raised by her mother, Rebecca Beke Paiaina, a lei maker. She initially attended the Kamehameha Schools, but graduated from President William McKinley High School in 1958. Her first job was at the a Waikiki eatery called Woody's Restaurant. She married her husband, Samuel Ladd Heine, in 1963, with whom she had four children.She studied hula under several well-known teachers, including Ruby Ahakuelo, Leilani Alama, Puanani Alama, Tom Hiona, Joseph Kahaulelio and Rose Maunakea. Heine was a student of Ma'iki Aiu Lake, an influential kumu hula, graduating from Lake's school in 1973. She was one of a notable group of hula students, also including Robert Cazimero and Wayne Chang, who attended Lake's hālau during the early 1970s.In addition to establishing the Na Pualei O Likolehua hālau, Heine was a co-founder of Ka 'Aha Hula 'O Halauaola, a major hula conference which was first held in Hilo. Heine was a regular performer at the Prince Lot Hula Festival, held at the Moanalua Gardens in Honolulu. She was also a judge and participant at the Merrie Monarch Festival, a week-long festival held in Hilo, and a mentor to hula dancers at the Queen Lili'uokalani Keiki Hula Competition.Heine performed hula solo with The Brothers Cazimero, the Hawaiian musical duo composed of Robert and Roland Cazimero, earning her the nickname, "the third brother." Their professional relationship dates to 1976.In 2010, Heine chose the theme song for the Prince Lot Festival, "Na Punawai O Moanalua," which translates to "The Wellspring of Moanalua". She explained the choice of the song in an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, telling the newspaper, "All of life is water. Without water, there is no life."She made a cameo appearance in a 2013 episode of Hawaii Five-0 called "Ola Na Iwi: Haloa."Leina'ala Kalama Heine died on September 9, 2015, at the age of 75.List of music festivals in the United States
This is a list of music festivals in the United States organized by state and then by name. It includes current and past notable festivals.Malia Ann Kawailanamalie Petersen
Malia Ann Kawailanamalie Petersen is a Hawaiian hula dancer of Norwegian and American descent.
Malia attended Saint Patrick School in Kaimuki, and the University Laboratory School in Mānoa.
Malia Ann Kawailanamalie Petersen is a Hula Halau 'O Kamuela dancer and won the 2002 Miss Aloha Hula contest of The 39th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival.Petersen of Hula Halau O Kamuela won the title of Miss Aloha Hula 2002 over 11 other dancers in the competition held at the Edith Kanaka'ole Tennis Stadium in Hilo.
Petersen is a former Miss Keiki Hula.Merry Monarch
Merry or Merrie Monarch may refer to:
Charles II of England (1630–1685), king of Great Britain and Ireland
Kalākaua (1836–1891), king of Hawaii
Merrie Monarch Festival
The Merry Monarch, racehorse
The Merry Monarch (musical), an 1890 comic operaMolokai Ka Hula Piko
Molokai Ka Hula Piko is an annual festival of the hula, held for three days every spring in Kaana, Molokai. Ka Hula Piko in Hawaiian means the "center of the hula dance".Ray Fonseca
Rae (or Ray) Fonseca (November 17, 1953 – March 20, 2010) was an American hula dancer and hula master. Fonseca established the Halau Hula O Kahikilaulani in 1980, a Hilo-based halau.Fonseca was a student of kumu hula master George Na'ope, who gave Fonseca the name, Kahikilaulani. Fonseca's halau, Halau Hula O Kahikilaulani, integrated Hawaiian culture, language and folklore into its hula instructions. The hulau had more than 100 students, who ranged in age from 4 up to 60 years old, as of March 2010.He pleaded no contest to second-degree negligent homicide in 2006 for killing a moped driver in a traffic accident in 2003. Fonseca was driving 40 mph in a 25 mph speed zone when he struck the moped with his sports utility vehicle while trying to avoid potholes. The judge sentenced him to six months in prison, but allowed work release during the day for community service and to teach hula.Kumu Ray Kahikilaulani Fonseca traveled to Mexico city, several times, one of them, driven by his formed student Arturo "Kamana'o" Valero (from Mexico city) on October 1994 to teach Hawaiian culture to spread hula throughout Mexico. Kumu Arturo "Kamana'o" Valero attain the Kumu status under Kumu Hula Debbie "Leionalani" Ryder and Kumu Hula master George Na'ope in 2009.On March 20, 2010, Fonseca flew from Hilo to Oahu to perform at the Lei o Lanikuhonua Hula Festival in Ko Olina. He was a strong supporter of the festival, which was founded in 2006 and allows high school students to perform and study with hula masters. He collapsed back stage minutes after completing a hula performance. Fonseca, who suffered a heart attack, was 56 years old.Fonseca's death came less than a day after the passing of another prominent hula figure, Auntie Dottie Thompson, who developed the Merrie Monarch Festival. He had visited her at her bedside before her death.
List of resources about traditional arts and culture of Oceania