NAWILIWILI — A free hula showcase will take place 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Kauai Ballroom at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club.
“This is not a competition,” said Sherri Holcomb, Owner Experience director at the Kauai Marriott Resort. “The event is our first annual Tribute to Kalakaua, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii who was known as the Merrie Monarch.”
One of the legacies emerging from Kalakaua’s encouragement of a “Hawaiian cultural renaissance,” was the birth of the Merrie Monarch hula competition in 1964 as a way to attract tourists and visitors to a tsunami-devastated Hilo on the Big Island.
Over its 52-year history, the Merrie Monarch hula festival has evolved into a weeklong celebration with an international audience.
“The Merrie Monarch Festival, now on its 52nd year, is like an Olympics of hula where halau throughout the world compete in kahiko, or ancient, and auwana, or modern, style of dance, striving for the honor of being named the best in this prestigious cultural event,” Holcomb said. “We have halau representing Kauai and Niihau who will be paying tribute to Kalakaua with their kahiko and auwana talents.”
Holcomb said this cultural event is different from the recent Kuhio Day ceremony. In that, kahili in need of repair were worked on and dedicated following a procession and protocol past the “Princess,” a koa canoe displayed in the resort’s lobby which is estimated to be about 150 years old and was a favorite of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Piikoi.
The kahili are now on display in the porte coche area and greet guests to the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club.