hālau that performs in Merrie Monarch will tell you what an honor and privilege
it is to be invited to hula's most prestigious event.
Mōhala 'Ilima has been dancing for 35 consecutive years -- an incredible
achievement considering most take breaks in order to prepare for such a
time they're returning to Hilo as the wahine overall and wahine kahiko
I could have chosen any year, I would have chosen the 50th," kumu hula
Māpuana de Silva said with a smile. "At the same time, even if we
hadn't placed anywhere I would have still had the same feeling of
accomplishment and gratitude for all of the years that we've been able to
hālau from Ka‘ōhao won wahine overall once before, 30 years ago, and have
consistently placed in kahiko or 'auana since then.
knows what we look like. They know what to expect -- so the pressure is
that -- we have to live up. We have to live up to the expectation that
everybody has and because they know our work, we can't -- we have to be better
than they even imagine!"
ladies, all veterans who've been dancing together for years, will be returning
to the Hilo stage.
can be a very calming experience to walk up there and feel your hula sisters
next to you, giving energy to you, feeding off of them, giving them energy and
so it's an exhilarating but safe experience all in once," described
Kapuahelani Sterling, the hālau's Miss Aloha Hula candidate.
lot of the time I'm just thinking to dance my guts out. We've been
training for this -- these two mele for months -- and I know it so well and I
just want to exude that and show it and be in the places we're dancing about.
That's all I see and I dance it like it's the last time I'm going to
dance it and I'm going to miss dancing it," explained Puanani
Connelly, who has been dancing for the last 6 years.
after decades of performing on hula's biggest stage, kumu hula de Silva says
every year is still exciting and significant.
we go to Hilo, we don't have to worry about anything but hula. It's such a luxury.
It really is and it's the only time we get to do that," said de
addition to their top finishes in wahine overall and kahiko, Hālau Mōhala
'Ilima also placed third in wahine 'auana.
ladies of Mōhala 'Ilima are often recognized for the old 'auana songs folks
don't typically hear anymore, which they give new life to on stage. When
it comes to song selection, kumu de Silva says the process is unchanging year
often than not, the mele choose us and there is no formula. There is
nothing we do or look for. We're always listening for beautiful mele. We're
always thinking about what else we want to bring in to our hālau," Kumu de
ladies won wahine overall last year by just one point.
you go to Merrie Monarch -- everybody is good. Everybody is good and anybody
can win in any year, anybody can place and anybody can not place," kumu
hula de Silva said.