Halau Na Kamalei wins overall title at Merrie Monarch

By Nina Wu / nwu@staradvertiser.com on April 12, 2015

HILO » Halau Na Kamalei O Lililehua under the direction of kumu hula Robert Cazimero claimed the title of overall winner at the 52nd Merrie Monarch Festival on Saturday night, with the highest combined score of 1,210 points.

What’s amazing is that Halau Na Kamalei only competes once every 10 years, and also won the overall title back in 2005. The halau is also celebrating its 40th anniversary.

The kane halau, which has young as well as "seasoned" dancers, wowed Merrie Monarch judges in the group kahiko and ‘auana competitions, and will take home the Lokalia Montgomery Perpetual Trophy.

A total of 28 groups — 10 kane and 18 wahine — brought the best of hula to the world stage at Edith Kanaka’ole Multi-Purpose Stadium on Friday and Saturday nights, following Thursday night’s Miss Aloha Hula event.

The hula performances on group kahiko night Friday were particularly outstanding, with numerous halau demonstrating mastery of ‘oli, or chant, expression, and precision in hand and foot movements. The kane groups demonstrated a high level of athleticism and creativity in choreography.

Halau Na Kamalei was clearly a crowd favorite, as they performed a number called "Ka ‘Aha Kilu Le’ale’a I Ka’akopua for kahiko, telling the story of a festive kilu tournament and sailing trip to Ha’ena. His men sang in harmony and displayed skill in creating various formations on stage.

For ‘auana, the kane, decked in lei performed "Le’ahi," celebrating Diamond Head. They smiled broadly, singing along with Cazimero, and clearly enjoyed the hula.

The group ‘auana competition on Saturday night celebrated love in all its forms – love for the beautiful places of Hawaii, as well as romantic love, with love compared to the Kanileua rain, fragrance of flowers and song of birds. Love, of course, is also represented by a lei. 

Halau danced to mele celebrating love for places on every island — from Leahi, or Diamond Head, on Oahu to Kawaihae on Hawai’i island. The musical accompaniment for ‘auana was also top-notch, featuring many of Hawaii’s finest musicians.

Jasmine Kaleihiwa Dunlap of Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela, under the direction of Kumu Kau’ionalani Kamana’o and Kunewa Mook, won the title of Miss Aloha Hula on Thursday night, with the highest score out of 11 solo dancers.

Halau Na Kamalei also won kane overall, but was topped by last year’s overall winner, Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka La for kane kahiko (after a tie-breaker), while Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela won the top score for wahine overall.

The panel of judges this year included Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett, Vicky Holt Takamine, Nalani Kanaka’ole, Mae Kamamalu Klein, Joan S. Lindsey, Keali’i Reichel and Alicia Keawekane Smith.

LIST OF 2015 MERRIE MONARCH WINNERS

Overall Winner

» Halau Na Kamalei O Lililehua, kumu Robert Uluwehi Cazimero, 1,210

Wahine Kahiko

» Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela, kumu Kau’ionalani Kamana’o and Kunewa Mook, 603
» Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka, kumu Napua Greig, 596
» Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha’eha’e, kumu Tracie and Keawe Lopes, 589
» Halau Na Mamo O Pu’uanahulu, kumu Sonny Ching and Lopaka Igarta-De Vera, 587, 816
» Halau Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniakea, kumu Kapua Dalire-Moe, 587, 815

Wahine Auana

» Halau Hula Ka Lehua Tuahine, kumu Ka’ilihiwa Vaughan-Darval, 600
» Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka, kumu Napua Greig, 591
» Halau Na Mamo O Pu’uanahulu, kumu Sonny Ching and Lopaka Igarta-De Vera, 590
» Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela, kumu Kau’ionalani Kamana’o and Kunewa Mook, 589
» Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha’eha’e, kumu Tracie and Keawe Lopes, 588

Wahine Overall

» Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela, kumu Kau’ionalani Kamana’o and Kunewa Mook, 1,192
» Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka, kumu Napua Greig, 1,187
» Halau Hula Ka Lehua Tuahine, kumu Ka’ilihiwa Vaughan-Darval, 1,179

Kane Kahiko

» Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka La, kumu Kaleo Trinidad, 600, 841
» Halau Na Kamalei O Lililehua, kumu Robert Uluwehi Cazimero, 600, 832
» Halalu Hula ‘O Kahikilaulani, kumu Nahokuokalani Gaspang, 599, 838
» Kawaili’ula, kumu Chinky Mahoe, 599, 838
» Halau Na Mamo O Pu’uanahulu, kumu Sonny Ching and Lopaka Igarta-De Vera, 594

Kane Auana

» Halau Na Kamalei O Lililehua, kumu Robert Uluwehi Cazimero, 610
» Halalu Hula ‘O Kahikilaulani, kumu Nahokuokalani Gaspang, 602
» Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka La, kumu Kaleo Trinidad, 601 
» Halau Na Mamo O Pu’uanahulu, kumu Sonny Ching and Lopaka Igarta-De Vera, 597

Kane Overall

» Halau Na Kamalei O Lililehua, kumu Robert Uluwehi Cazimero, 1210
» Halau Hula ‘O Kahikilaulani, kumu Nahokuokalani Gaspang, 1201
» Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka La, kumu Kaleo Trinidad, 1201