Dancing their way into first place for the third year in a row were members of the Kano‘eau Dance Academy of Maui, at the closing event of the Kaua‘i Mokihana Festival.
They won the group kane kahiko nei and ‘auana categories, earning the Maui halau a perpetual award and the honor of keeping the impressive trophy. From the same halau, hula dancer Thelma Leinani Garso’s graceful rendition of “‘Olu O Pu‘ulani” won her the title of Mrs. Mokihana Hula 2003.
With skillful precision footwork and style, Keita Ushijima of halau Na Lei O Popohau won the Mr. Hula ‘Auana title. He also won the same award at the premiere Japan/Kaua‘i Mokihana Festival event, held in March in Tokyo.
The Kaua‘i Mokihana Festival completed a week of Hawaiian cultural events with its closing contest, hula under the stars at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center hula mound last weekend.
Some 19 halau from Japan, Guam, Maui, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, Moloka‘i and Washington state competed in the hula competition.
Besides Ushijima and Garso, other first-place winners included:
Solo ‘Opio Wahine: Tiara Keli‘iho‘omalu
Solo ‘Opio Kane: Randy Kalauli
Mrs. Kupuna Mokihana: Leimomi Murray
Kaikamahine (Kahiko Nei): Halau O Po‘ohala
Wahine (Kahiko Nei): Ka Pa a Kuali‘i
Kaikamahine (‘Auana): Halau Nawaipunalei
Kupuna (‘Auana): Hale o Lono
Hui ‘Ohana (‘Auana): Na Pua Mae‘ole
Wahine (‘Auana): Ka Pa a Kuali‘i
Music Award: Halau Nawaipunalei, Kumu Hula Pono and Leimomi Murray
Hawaiian Language Award: Kumu Hula Keala Kukona, Kano‘eau Dance Academy
Ho‘o Pa‘a Award: Pono and Leimomi Murray
Overall Award: Kano‘eau Dance Academy, Kuma Hula Keala Kukona.