Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Contributing Editor
Finally, it’s all about the dancing. After months of rehearsal and the sadness of losing a trio of leading hula figures, the Merrie Monarch Festival’s competition got down to the serious business Friday night in Hilo.
And somewhere, you just know George Naope, Dottie Thompson and Ray Fonseca were smiling down on the evening as 24 halau took their turn on the stage at Edith Kanakaole Multipurpose Stadium.
This year’s kahiko, or ancient, hula competition featured a knock-out succession of skilled and athletic dancers, perfectly turned out in colorful costumes, roused the sold-out crowd all night.
And there is more to come. The festival wraps up Saturday evening with the auana, or modern, hula competition. This typically proves to be the time for kumu to showcase their creativity and for dancers to show their best stuff.
It’s shaping up to be a tough year to be a judge.
Judges this year are Pat Namaka Bacon, Nalani Kanakaole, Joan S. Lindsey, Kalena Silva, Alicia Smith, Leiana Woodside and Noenoelani Zuttermeister Lewis.
Although tickets are sold out for the event, it can be seen live on TV channel KFVE-5, and at www.k5thehometeam.com
The 47th annual Merrie Monarch Festival Schedule
SATURDAY, APRIL 10
10:30 a.m. — Royal Parade through downtown Hilo
Noon — Merahi, Tiffany Dela Cruz, at the Civic
* Group Hula Auana -Competition at Edith Kanakaole Multipurpose Stadium
6 p.m. — Entrance of Royal Court
6:15 p.m. — National Anthem and Hawaii Ponoi by Karena Asejo
6:20 p.m. — Pule by Father George De Costa
6:25 p.m. — Introduction of judges
6:30 p.m. — Hula Auana Competition, followed by presentation of awards