Maui halau to dance to same song twice at Merrie Monarch Festival

WAILUKU, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Merrie Monarch Hula Festival begins in just a few days, and one halau is taking a unique approach to their performances on the coveted stage.

This year marks Halau Kekuaokalaaualailiahi's sixth year competing in the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo.

The dancers will portray the union between King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani in their chosen mele.

But in a twist, the men and women will perform the same song with different interpretations.

"They are both doing the same kahiko mele, hua kai mele, and that particular mele, we both choreographed in a feminine style and in a masculine style." Kumu Hula Haunani Paredes said.

Iliahi and Haunani Paredes are a husband and wife kumu hula team.

"Although they'll be doing the same mele, they'll be doing very different interpretations," Haunani said.

Hula halau typically select different songs for their performances on the world's biggest stage for hula. The dancers in the halau say when they are together, they are a family.

"I've been dancing for them for 13 years. It's kind of like they are my second parents," Miss Aloha Hula contestant Leimakamae Kea said.

The kumu hula duo also has an interesting dynamic when perfecting a routine. Iliahi sees the big picture while Haunani focuses on the details.

"My wife has so many talents that she shares with our halau and it really complements my weaknesses," Iliahi said.

"Just when you think you have us down, we'll switch. I'll see the bigger picture and he'll be really detail oriented, so you never know who's going to show up to hula that day," Haunani said.

For the dancers, their performance is about the love of their culture, and love for each other.

"Thinking about all those people who support us going on that stage, kahiko or auna, we carry them with us on that stage," said dancer, Kamalei Kawaa.

The Merrie Monarch Festival begins Wednesday.

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