Kumu Hula Leinaala Pavao Jardin of Ka Lei Mokihana O Leinaala said the 40th annual Queen Liliuokalani Keiki Hula competition was one to remember.
The Kalaheo-based halau finished the competition with third-place honors in the Master Keiki and Miss Keiki Hula competition on the opening night July 23 at the Neal Blaisdell Center on Oahu.
During the hula kahiko competition, the boys finished second and the girls finished third, repeating the order during the hula auana competition on the final day.
“What was really exciting was being the recipient of the Mary Kawena Pukui Hawaiian Language Award,” Jardin said. “We have never won this award for as long as we’ve been participating in the competition.”
Jardin said she was pleased with her performers.
“This was a very memorable year,” Jardin said. “We had such a large group attending and to see how all of the kids and parents bond was special. We had a huge cheering section with more than 100 people making noise when our keiki performed.”
Jardin said one of the purposes of attending these types of competition is for the memories it creates.
One such memory took place on Saturday.
The kids were meditating before they took the stage, sitting down, cross-legged with their eyes closed and trying to focus when something unexpected happened. One of the dancers is related to Roman DePeralta, the lead singer for Kolohe Kai, and a surprise visit was arranged.
“When he started singing, these little girls, all familiar with the group’s songs, all started screaming,” Jardin said. “This is something they will never forget. We actually invited the other halau over and had like a mini concert right there in the dressing room.”