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Each year, with festivities beginning on Easter, the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo draws the very finest performing hula hālau (hula troupes) from throughout the world...
and brings 5,000 people together in celebration of Hawaiian culture.
The event is sold out months in advance, and is sometimes coined the “Olympics of Hula”. Yet for the passionate student of hula, the Hawaiian dance is much more than movement of body or precision in step. Hula is an all-encompassing way of life — a poetic sharing of both story and spirit and a creative, ever-transformative art during which the mana (spiritual power) grows.
The most devoted teacher or practitioner becomes hula and remains a student of hula throughout life, as a celebration of spirit.
The application process for Merrie Monarch is extensive, preparation is demanding, and each hālau member is expected to live intimately within the breath, the hā, so that all hālau members dance as one.
Dancers participate in three divisions: Miss Aloha Hula, Group Hula Kahiko (traditional hula accompanied by chanting and percussion) and Group Hula ‘Auana (modern hula accompanied by song). Each group competition has male (kāne) and female (wahine) honors as well as overall award winners.
Each member of a hālau spends hundreds of hours preparing for Merrie Monarch: practicing choreography, chanting, sewing costumes, gathering foliage and flowers for lei, and even preparing each other’s hair, so all members are uniform in look and fluid in creative expression on stage.
The next annual Merrie Monarch Festival will be held from March 31 - April 6, 2014. To find out how to apply for tickets, visit www.merriemonarch.com.
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