WATCH: Two respected kumu reflect on how Merrie Monarch changed hula
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Over the last 60 years, hula has changed — greatly in thanks to the Merrie Monarch Festival.
With the 60th festival now complete, Hilo returned to it’s laid back style as hula lovers look to next year’s festival.
Leading up to the celebration, Hawaii News Now spoke with two beloved kumu to get their take on the evolution of hula, and how the festival helped shape it all. Both have played major roles in the festival from dancing, singing, to judging and more.
Kumu Hula and Punahou School Kumu Ike Hawaii Kimo Keaulana shared stories of the early days of the festival. He worked with Uncle George and Aunty Dottie Thompson to grow and expand the competition over many years.
Kumu Hula Leimomi Ho was among the first to compete in the inaugural hula competition, which began in 1971. She danced for her mama with the Hau’oli Hula Studio and ended up winning the competition.
Both of them shared their mana’o on how the competition shaped hula, and the level of excellence we know today as many prepare for future festivals to come.
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