Halau Prepares for Hula’s Biggest Stage


Photo by Colleen Uechi.


Last week, residents and visitors at the Molokai Community Health Center got a sneak peek of the talents to come in this year’s Merrie Monarch Festival.

Moana’s Hula Halau, which was invited to participate in the storied hula festival in Hilo this year, held their annual dinner show last Saturday night. Dancers from keiki to kupuna entertained a crowd of hundreds in a fundraiser for festival-bound halau members. It’s been more than 10 years since the halau has performed at the festival.

“To be asked to come again is a privilege for us because we have a lot of new girls and [it’s] a good experience for them,” said halau Kumu Hula Valerie Dudoit-Temahaga.

Halau members and guest performers showcased a medley of Polynesian dances. The show featured a mix of hula performances, as well as upbeat Tahitian and Maori dances and a rousing fire-knife show by Maui-based performers. Henohea Kane, the Miss Aloha Hula 2009 and a relative of halau founder Moana Dudoit, also danced a solo number.

Those in attendance enjoyed a roast beef dinner and a chance to win various gifts. A silent auction offered hotel stays, kayak rentals, handmade jewelry, large kitchen appliances and beach bags. Attendees could also pay $25 for mystery wrapped bottles of wine, some of which were worth more than $100.

Halau Kumu Hula Raquel Dudoit said they’ve been doing the dinner show for about five or six years. Dudoit-Temahaga said all proceeds will go towards the halau, which has represented Molokai in several Merrie Monarch festivals over the years. The halau needs to raise more than $30,000 for airfare, lodging and costumes.

“[It means] everything,” said halau member Larriley Kekahuna Rawlins. “Just showing the people in the world … the love we have for our Hawaiian culture and hula, and all the expressions that we use that shows basically how we feel inside and how we show outside.”

This year the halau will be taking 28 girls to Hilo in April. Emcee Zhantell Dudoit said it was the dream of Moana Dudoit, who started the halau more than 50 years ago, to return to the festival after their last appearance in 2004. While Moana passed away in 2013, Zhantell said she’d be happy to know the halau will be carrying out her wish.



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