LIHUE — The halau proudly wore the Moku Project shirts, emblazoned with the Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leinaala on the back.
Each of the dancers arrived at the Lihue Airport Wednesday donning the moku shirt of where they came from, the collective body forming the halau that will perform at the Merrie Monarch Hula Festial in Hilo.
“I feel like we’re a little more relaxed this year,” said Kim Frasco, one of the halau dancers. “We have some of our dancers who took a break, dancing with us this year. That means we have a lot more experienced dancers.”
The halau takes the stage as No. 21 out of 28 participating halau Friday for its kahiko presentation and Saturday for its auana presentation.
“I have my father’s dogtags from when he served in the Army,” said Jennie Ipac, another halau performer. “I have a lot of other memorabilia from my family with me, and I can feel them with me.”
The halau will perform a mele written by Ipac’s great grandfather, William Kualu, when it takes the stage for its kahiko presentation. The mele mai is from Kualu’s collection of more than 200 mele he created and will speak of the Kokee and other mountainous regions of Kauai he loved to frequent.
“Aliipoe” is another Kauai mele that the halau will present when it takes the stage for its auana performance Saturday, the number first being presented by Kumu Hula Leinaala in her bid for the Miss Aloha Hula title in 1993.