Long beyond the “Aloha, see you next year” on the television coverage watched around the state and the world, the celebration continued long into the night at the 51st Merrie Monarch Festival. It seemed that everyone was having a photo taken with everyone else.
Much like the “how do they do that?” TV show, a quick peek into Hawaii News Now’s central broadcast van was like tech heaven. Rowland Yamamoto, Ted Jung and David Kalama are sitting at a what looks like a “Star Wars” set or possibly Mission Control for the space shuttle. Rowland calls out, “Camera two, camera three, get ready, camera four — GO,” directing the smooth images that make the TV audience believe they are in the front seat with the VIPs.
The newest addition to the coverage was a second control room broadcasting simultaneously in Hawaiian, reminding us that we live in possibly the richest cultural time and place. Short version: Lucky we live Hawaii!
Just hitting a few of the high spots of the Saturday ‘auana competition, the evening started with a quick stop to watch kumu hula Glenn Vasconcellos do his styling magic on the “do” of the Merrie Monarch royalty. This is his 26th year as the hairstyle wizard for the royal court.
Next, the arrival of newbies Jimmy Borges and wife Vickie, anticipating their first-ever MM front-row experience. “Wow” was their first impression.
MM judge Vicky Holt Takamine allowed one more opportunity to ask that fun question: Who are you wearing? “All my wardrobe is from MAMo fashion show artists, Thursday it was Manuhealii, Friday I wore Maile Andrade, and tonight I am wearing Wahine Toa.” You can see them all at the May MAMo fashions show at Hawaii Theatre in Honolulu.
Aunty Elizabeth Lee, the master weaver, created 24 hats for the dancers of Halau Mohala ‘Ilima. The dancers wore them at rehearsal and then danced their hula crowned with Aunty Elizabeth’s artistry. She was in the bleachers with the family and friends of the halau, enjoying the view.
Lynn Cook is a freelance arts and cultural writer who has studied hula for 25 years.