Monday, April 1, 2013

The Merrie Monarch Festival - A weeklong hula festival

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The whole week right after Easter day celebrations in Hilo, Hawaii is marked with the Merrie Monarch festival which covers everything and anything focused on the beautiful hula dance, competitions and various events celebrating the hula.

This is one of our most beautiful festivals to watch not only for the gorgeous dancing, wonderful live music and colorful outfits, but also for the gorgeous flower leis, head pieces and organic plant materials used as adornments. In the traditional styles of performances, traditional wear is all handmade from local materials including the coloring of costumes. This dancer below wears a crown of palm pods with indigenous flowers and moss for her hairpiece decoration.

Every day is set with amazing hula performances at many venues around Hilo town and many hula halau (hula schools) coming from all over the world converge to enjoy, compete and perform in the festivities. You will see some of the best hula performances in the world at this week long celebration of hula.

The first day of peformances starts on Easter Sunday and is a called the Ho'olaule'a (Hawaiian celebration or event). The event features well known local hula halau (hula schools) from Hawaii Island and is a favorite event with local audiences. Usually the auditorium is packed with audience members supporting their favorite hula halau with loud cheers and whistles. The energy level and spirit of Aloha is alive with the hula dancing along with audience participation.

Many hula halau include young keiki (children) dancing in their age groups and hula performances are encouraged at all ages from young to old. But the keiki hula performances are very popular and fun to watch at the Ho'olaule'a show.

Traditional hula dancing known as hula kahiko is a very popular dance to see and experience. Not only are the costumes handmade, but also their adornments, leis and musical instruments are hand done for each specific performance. Every part of a dance and costume is presented with authentic details with time consuming practise and performance. This is to present a hula dance to the audience so they can experience an authenthic and ancient hula performance.

The modern dance style called hula Auana is also popular with colorful outfits and a beautiful and expressive flowing style. Most hulas dances are typically done in this modern style of dance with popular Hawaiian music performed with an ukulele, guitar and base guitar combination and singers complementing the dance.


Here are a few more performance highlights of last night's event.

The Merrie Monarch Ho'olaulea hula performances in Hilo are just the start of a week long celebration of hula dancing at its finest. The rest of the week comprises of beautiful hula demonstrations, crafts fairs, singing competitions, various competitive dance performances and a colorful parade with the champions of the hula events.

To view more images of this event, please visit my flickr site below

A hui hou (until we meet again) - hopefully at another beautiful hula performance at the Merrie Monarch festival in Hilo.

Enjoying the west side at Polulu Valley,Hawii

Its nice to switch it up and visit the west side of Hawaii island for a change of pace. After an assignment in Kona, I wanted to drive out to Hawi and hike down Polulu valley to the black sand beach, and with any luck catch an amazing sunset which I've never experienced at Polulu.

Unfortunately, it seems like whenever I visit Polulu, its always socked in with clouds, stormy skies, and no sunsets - a little disapppointing considering the drive.

Oh well, here's the scene from the lookout point to the rugged coastlines on this grey, grey day.

The light was flat with even clouds creating a washed out atmosphere to the usually dramatic landscape. Walking back to the car, I did notice some beautiful wildflowers all over the roadway which I've never noticed before, and they were blooming everywhere. Its always amazing how inspiration can change instantly when you keep your eyes open and observe things differently in the landscape.

In this lighting, photographing plants and flowers is very flattering, framing the view with texture and color to create a pleasing image.

Inspiration comes back into view:

Beautiful white wildflowers frame this entire field creating a sweeping panorama with a gorgeous wild flower foreground below.

I'm loving this image that I converted to a black and white, the wildflowers just seem to pop out drammatically against the dark green hillsides. Even though this didn't turn out well for a sunset opportunity, I was able to find something just as interesting wih the wildflowers and creating a different mood to Polulu, definitely worth the drive.

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