HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Merrie Monarch Festival is reminding people that the hula competition will take place this summer — but with some major changes.
The parade, hula performances by visiting hālau and craft fair will not take place in 2021 for safety reasons. The competition will also have a different look.
Hālau Hula O Napunaheleonapua Kumu Rich Pedrina told KHON in February that the music will be prerecorded and the performances will not be televised live. Even the awards ceremony will be virtual.
All hālau participants, festival staff and the television production crew have agreed to follow the guidelines that include undergoing multiple COVID-19 testings, a 5-day isolation period prior to entering the competition venue for the first time and daily screenings to monitor any symptoms.
Merrie Monarch Festival President Luana Kawelu said COVID-19 protocols add another level of commitment for all of the people involved.
“Now they have to come in five days prior and be in isolation,” Kawelu said. “That’s five extra days they have to pay for lodging, pay for food, pay for the cars, so they are truly committed to do this.”
2021 will be even more special than other years for Hula Kumu Keano Kaupu. He said the competition will simply be focused on the beauty of hula while all the other adornments and festivities will take a backseat — at least for this year.
Kaupu said, “If any year will be the most genuine of Merrie Monarch it’s this year, simply because everything has been stripped away from us.”
Kaupu said 2021s competition will teach his students about adaptability and resiliency. He also has given his students strict health and safety guidelines, as all of their hard work will depend on a negative COVID-19 test at all times.
Kaupu said, “If any one of my students or ourselves or anybody that travels with us, tests positive, we’re done.”
Only 15 hālau will take part in the competition in 2021 and the number of dancers allowed is also cut in half. The participating groups are listed below:
- Hālau Hi‘iakaināmakalehua
- Hālau Hula ‘O Nāpunaheleonāpua
- Hālau Hula Ke ‘Olu Makani O Mauna Loa
- Hālau Hula Olana
- Hālau I Ka Wēkiu
- Hālau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leinā‘ala
- Hālau Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniākea
- Hālau Kala‘akeakauikawēkiu
- Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi
- Hālau Keolakapuokalani
- Hālau O Ka Hanu Lehua
- Ka Lā ‘Ōnohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e
- Ke Kai O Kahiki
Performances will take place in Hilo at the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium on June 24, 25 and 26.
Click here for information on when and where the competition will be televised and for further updates.