It’s the call every halau dreams of: The invitation to participate in Merrie Monarch

Updated: Apr. 24, 2019 at 11:50 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kumu hula Kenneth “Aloha” Victor of Halau Kalaakeakauikawekiu was speechless when he got a call from Merrie Monarch Festival President Luana Kawelu.

The halau performed in hoike last year, but this call was an invite to compete.

“She said, ‘You know, I think we are going to put you in Merrie Monarch this year,'" said Victor, of Kailua-Kona. “My eyeballs dropped. My chin dropped to the ground. My stomach dropped.”

Two months passed before he told his students the good news.

LIVESTREAM: Watch the Merrie Monarch Festival live online at Hawaii News Now.

“We ended up telling the girls and I think all of their eyes opened bigger than they’ve ever opened their eyes,” he said.

"I was really happy. I was excited. I was shocked. I mean it's the Merrie Monarch," said dancer Tyra Lynn Kaimuloa Bates, 14.

She loves how hula portrays a story and has been dancing since she was 3 years old.

"Hula plays a big role in my life," she said.

As said in their halau name, sacred light place of the highest summit, Victor's dancers are striving for excellence and they'll be honoring the people and places of Kona.

"No need for trophies. It's just honoring the people that have supported the halau for all these years, honoring our Kona and our ancestors," said Victor.

Victor started his halau in 2006 and now it’s their turn for the Merrie Monarch stage.

“This is why you have been in halau for so long. This is the Olympics of hula,” he said.

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