Merrie Monarch Celebrates 50th Year

Fifty Years/Seven Minutes: It takes centuries to develop a cultural practice like hula. Half a century to build a festival like the Merrie Monarch. A year for a halau to prepare its performance. And seven minutes to dance on a hallowed stage.


Published:

(page 4 of 4)

On Winning

Michael Casupang, co-director of halau I Ka Wekiu,
which swept the kane division and took home the overall win in 2012

“I don’t believe there is any pressure to win because we were the overall winner last year. What is really important is that our lineage be represented and that we prepare our students to perform and express at their best, at their pinnacle. Our halau name, Halau I Ka Wekiu, means ‘school upon the summit,’ as we teach our students to strive to do their very best in hula, and more importantly, in their everyday lives. When it comes to preparing for Merrie Monarch, all we can do is prepare them to do their best, to work together as a whole and to represent our kumu and our kumu’s kumu and generations beyond.

 “The hours, days, months to prepare comes down to that last breath they take before taking the stage and it all should just unfold and happen without them thinking about it. The dancing, the chanting, all becomes intuitive and emerges from the na‘au, from their gut, not from the brain. It’s spectacular, invigorating, like no other feeling, when you come off that stage and you don’t know what just happened, but you know that it was wonderful and that hula lives.”

 

Merrie Monarch: Turning Points



  • 1963: Helene Hale, Gene Wilhelm and George Naope begin planning Merrie Monarch

  • 1964: First ever Merrie Monarch Festival

  • 1968: Dorothy "Auntie Dottie" Thompson takes over

  • 1971: Women's hula competition begins; Aloha Wong named first Miss Hula

  • 1976: Men's hula competition begins

  • 1980: The Merrie Monarch is broadcast live on television

  • 2000: Auntie Dottie receives the Outstanding Non-Hawaiian Perpetuating the Hawaiian Culture award by the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs

  • 2009: Uncle George Naope passes away

  • 2010: Auntie Dottie passes away. Her daughter Luana Kawelu, takes the helm with staff of entirely volunteers

  • 2013: 50th Annual Merrie Monarch kicks off March 31 / Hula competition April 4-6

 

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