6th Annual International Waikiki Hula Conference Pays Tribute to 50 Years of Merrie Monarch Festival

Photo by Teresa Tico
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Photo by Teresa Tico

HONOLULU – Hula enthusiasts from around the world are invited to celebrate the art of hula in its native surroundings at the 6th Annual International Waikiki Hula Conference, May 17 to 19, 2013 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. Open to dancers of all experience levels with an interest in hula, the conference will bring together hundreds of hula lovers for a weekend filled with hula, chant, history, crafts and more.

The conference workshops, mele (songs) and hula will pay tribute to and celebrate the Merrie Monarch Festival’s 50th anniversary. The festival honors the legacy of King David Kalākaua, which perpetuates traditions, native language and the arts. The workshop mele and hula will be taught by award-winning kumu hula (hula teachers), some of whom have also competed on the famed Merrie Monarch stage.


“The International Waikiki Hula Conference brings together members of the worldwide hula community with some of the industry’s most renowned Hawaiian cultural practitioners to perpetuate the authentic art of hula,” said Marnie Weeks, International Waikiki Hula Conference producer. “We hope that visitors and locals alike will join us in extending the celebratory spirit of the 50th Merrie Monarch Festival for this special weekend of appreciation and respect for hula.”

With over 80 Merrie Monarch-themed workshops at this International Waikiki Hula Conference, attendees will have the opportunity to learn hula with special significance to kuma hula. Participants, for example, will be able to learn hula to the mele “Nani Koleka” (Beautiful Dorothy), written by kumu Cy Bridges in honor of the late Merrie Monarch founder Aunty Dottie Thompson. This mele was presented by his halau at the festival’s 25th anniversary and will be taught by kumu Bridges at the conference.

Kumu Maelia Loebenstein Carter, a former Miss Aloha Hula, will teach a hula kahiko (ancient dance), to the lively “Malua Ki’iwai Kealoha,” which she presented at the 2006 Merrie Monarch Festival with her own Miss Aloha Hula entrant.  Attendees also will learn about Hilo, Merrie Monarch’s hometown, and its special places through songs such as “Hilo Hula,” written in the 1940s by Joseph Nohea Kalima and taught by his granddaughter, kumu‘Iwalani Kalima.

In addition to learning mele and hula, participants will have the opportunity to attend workshops and seminars covering related aspects of hula, such as making an authentic ti leaf Hilo-style neck lei or an ipu heke (double gourd drum) with one of Hawai‘i’s master implement crafters. They also can participate in educational seminars, such as “Influences and Changes in Hula During the Reign of King Kalākaua,” presented by cultural expert, kumu hula Kimo Alama Keaulana, or the sing-along “Songs of Hawai‘i Island” by award-winning singer-songwriter Ku‘uipo Kumukahi.  The conference will feature possibly the largest gathering of Hawai‘i-based kumu hula for one event – a special treat for hula students and performers from outside the state.

Conference registrants will have the opportunity to perform a mele learned from their workshop kumu at varioushō‘ike (shows) throughout Waikīkī. Attendees also will participate in the opening ceremonies and the closing “Kanikapila” performance, have a chance to take home a piece of Hawai‘i from the Hawaiian Vendor Mall and receive a certificate of completion at the end of the conference.

Registration for the International Waikiki Hula Conference is $385 ($250 for kama‘āina – Hawai‘i residents) for the full three days. Special rates are offered for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to register for the conference, please visit www.waikikihulaconference.com.



About the International Waikiki Hula Conference

The International Waikiki Hula Conference offers individuals the rare opportunity to come to Hawai‘i to learn, share and experience hula in the land of its birth, with a variety of respected hula masters. It is the chance to enrich one’s hula experience from many sources in one place, and to meet fellow dancers and kumu hula from around the world. The International Waikiki Hula Conference is a non-profit project of the Waikiki Improvement Association. “Like” the International Waikiki Hula Conference on Facebook atfacebook.com/InternationalWaikikiHulaConference.