Wahi a Kumu Kalena Silva, kahi luna loiloi no ka Mele Manaka 2013, ʻo “kēia makemake o ka poʻe Hawaiʻi e hoʻokūkū, he mea kahiko loa, ʻaʻohe mea hou. Kēlā manawa, ʻano hoʻohenehene ʻana kekahi hālau i kekahi. E piʻi ai ka makemake o ka poʻe e lilo iā lākou ka lanakila.”
Ua mālama ʻia kēia hana moʻomeheu ma ka hoʻokūkū Mele Manaka, a ʻike ʻia kekahi mau manaʻo koʻikoʻi hou aku no kēia hana hoʻokūkū a noho luna loiloi ʻana.
“Nā mea i koho ʻia no ka loiloi ʻana, he mau kumu, he mau loea paha i mākaukau i nā ʻano like ʻole i loko o ka hula.” I ʻōlelo ai ʻo Kumu Manu Boyd, ke kumu no Hālau ʻO Ke ʻAʻaliʻi Kū Makani.
Wahi a Luana Kawelu, ka Pelekikena o ka Hoʻolauleʻa Mele Manaka, “mea nui ka loaʻa o nā kumu mai nā hālau like ʻole. Pono pū ko lākou ʻike no ka ʻaoʻao kahiko a ʻauana pū. ʻAʻole loa ia he hana maʻalahi.”
ʻŌlelo hou mai ʻo Kumu Manu, “ua moakāka wale nō nā mea e loiloi ʻia ana… ke kaʻina wāwae, ke kuhi lima, ka hula kaʻi, ka lole, a me ka lei, a me ka maiau paha o ka ʻōlapa, inā he pūpalakī, mōkākī, kāpulu, hiki ke ʻike ʻia mai ka minuke i komo ai ka hālau i mua ou.”
ʻO ka māhele e nānā nui ʻia ai e nā luna loiloi, ʻo ia ka wehewehena o ka manaʻo o ke mele. No laila, hoʻouna nā kumu i nā manaʻo no nā mele e koho ʻia.
“ʻOiai hoʻomākaukau nui ka poʻe i kēlā manawa, ʻo ka poʻe o kēia manawa, hoʻomākaukau nui palena ʻole kēia poʻe. No laila iaʻu, he hōʻailona kēlā o ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, he kahua ikaika kēlā, no ka poʻe hula, ʻoiai he ʻike ko ka mea hula i kāna e hula ana.” i ʻōlelo ai ʻo Kumu Kalena.
“Ma ka hula ʻana o kekahi ʻōlapa, i kuʻu manaʻo, hiki ke ʻike ʻia ke ʻano, ka moʻolelo, ka ʻike ma nā maka o ka ʻōlapa.” wahi a Kumu Manu.
I launa nā mea a pau, loiloi nā luna i ia mau palapala.
“No laila, ke noho luna loiloi au, hoʻomaopopo au, ua hele mai kēia poʻe me ka mākaukau. A nui koʻu hoʻomaikaʻi i nā hālau pākahi a pau, ko lākou paʻu nui.” i ʻōlelo pū ai ʻo Kumu Kalena.
According to Kumu Kalena Silva, a judge for the Merrie Monarch 2013 competition, “Hawaiians have always enjoyed competitions. Hālau use to engage in battles of wit to spur the competitive spirit.”
This competitive spirit continues in venues like Merrie Monarch, overseen by qualified judges.
Manu Boyd, the Kumu Hula of Hālau ʻO Ke ʻAʻaliʻi Kū Makani, also comented that, “judges are chosen for their skill and insight to hula.”
The President of the Merrie Monarch Festival, Luana Kawelu, also commented that “first of all, you have to know the background of the judges, because you cannot have all judges coming from one school. You also have to make sure that the judges know a strong, in both kahiko and ʻauana. It’s not an easy job to be a judge.”
“For us kumu, it is clear what is expected. From the foot movements, to the hands…the adornments and all the details deserving attention…if this is not all in order, it’s evident from the minute the dancer hits the stage.” says Kumu Manu.
According to Luana, “the judges judge on several categories, and the one with the most points is the interpretation. So, each kumu sends in a fact sheet that tells their interpretation about the mele, what the mele is all about.”
“While dancers always studied their mele, nowadays they appreviate it even more. That is no doubt due to the increase in understanding of the language.” says Kumu Kalena.
Kumu Manu also states that “when a dancer dances, you can see the story through their facial expressions.”
“It all has to fit. And so they send all of that, the facts, in to the judges, and each judge has to read all of those.” says Luana.
“As a judge, I know they have done a lot of research and I honor and mahalo that.” says Kalena.