Keiki Auana Hula Festival ‘E Malama Mau I Ka Hula Festival

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation, in partnership with the Merrie Monarch Festival Committee, is pleased to announce the return of the Keiki Auana Hula Festival ‘E Malama Mau I Ka Hula Festival.

Hulihe‘e Palace

Children dancers from 10 Hawai‘i Island halau will perform auana, or modern, hula from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. October 20 at the Edith Kanakaole Multi-Purpose Stadium in Hilo.

Started in 1981 by the late Aunty Dottie Thompson, the Keiki Auana Hula Festival ran for 22 consecutive years until an election day scheduling conflict in 2003 resulted in the event’s suspension.

In Thompson’s memory, the department of Parks and Recreation is reviving the competition, now called ‘E Malama Mau I Ka Hula Festival, to benefit Hawai‘i Island keiki and to preserve the island’s rich hula tradition.

“We’re delighted this exciting event is returning,” said Luana Kawelu, Merrie Monarch Festival Committee president. “Keiki represent the future of hula, and my mother loved keiki and would be honored to see this event again.”

The ‘E Malama Mau I Ka Hula Festival will feature a total of 20 performances in the following three divisions:

  • Elementary Division – keiki attending kindergarten through fifth grade
  • Intermediate Division – keiki enrolled in sixth through eighth grades
  • Senior Division –  high school keiki in ninth through twelfth grades

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers in each age category.

Standard rules include a minimum of five dancers per performance, use of live musicians, and no plastic lei or cellophane skirts. Also, each mele must be sung in Hawaiian.

Prominent kuma hula Leolani Pratt Ha‘o, Glenn Vasconcellos, Sandra Lee and Holoua Stender have graciously agreed to judge the keiki performances.

Admission is $5 per person. Tickets may be obtained from the performing halau, at the Merrie Monarch Festival office located at 865 Piilani Street in Hilo or by phone by calling 935-9168 weekdays between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

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