LIHUE — As she returned to Kauai from the 2015 Merrie Monarch Festival, Leinaala Pavao Jardin said she couldn’t be happier with her troupe’s performances or the experiences she shared with them.
“I’m very pleased with the hula they shared,” said the kumu hula of Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leinaala. “They did a wonderful job. I feel the key is sharing a story and they did that. They really worked months and months in immersing themselves in the mele. We just had a wonderful time. It was a great journey to Merrie Monarch 2015.”
Although the girls didn’t win any awards for their performances, halau member Jayna Shaffer placed third runner-up in the Miss Aloha Hula Competition after she performed her two meles, Hula Kahiko on Friday and Hula Auana on Thursday.
Shaffer’s first performance paid tribute to the Hawaiian canoe the Hokulea, which is on its Malama Honua journey, while the second paid tribute to composer and slack key guitar player Rev. Dennis Kamakahi, who died in April of last year.
“It was a touching moment to remember him and reflect on a wonderful man,” Jardin said. “She was absolutely fabulous. I couldn’t be happier.”
On Friday, the women shared a song by William Kualu, who composed over 200 meles, or songs, and whose grandchild, Jennie Ipac is part of the halau.
The women also danced a song on Saturday called Aliipoe, which Jardin danced to when she entered the Miss Aloha Hula Competition in 1993.
“When you dance the hula, it’s sharing a story and that is truly what they did,” Jardin said. “It was evident that they did their homework, that they knew what their mele was about and I’m very pleased to be the kumu to this group of young women.”
Jardin also said that although the journey is over for her and her halau, their journey as a halau will continue and so will their love for hula.
“It’s definitely a huge honor to be invited and I really feel that it serves as a platform; serves as an event that brings together a number of halau that share their love for the hula,” Jardin said. “Merrie Monarch is not just about the seven minutes on stage but it’s about the journey to get to that stage.”
The 2015 Merrie Monarch Festival took place on Hilo at the Edith Kanakaole Stadium Thursday through Saturday and featured 28 halau.