In Partnership with the Southern Weekend

Celebrating 45 years of Keiki Hula: 2019 Master Keiki Hula performs special solo

For the 2019 Master Keiki Hula award winner, hula is a way of life

In celebration of Keiki Hula’s 45th anniversary, halau from across Hawaii participated in the Queen Liliʻuokalani Keiki Hula Hōʻike, a special four-night TV event packed with history, hula, and culture in honor of Hawaii’s last reigning monarch, hosted by HI Now’s Kainoa Carlson and Lacy Deniz with Hawaii News Now.

Since there was no competition this year, the 2019 Miss and Master Keiki Hula award winners will retain their titles for another year. Here is a special solo performance by 2019 Master Keiki Hula Zyon Blaze ʻAuikekaiola Telles-Kuwahara.

In 2019, the 44th Annual Queen Liliʻuokalani Keiki Hula Competition brought together 22 hālau from four Hawaiian Islands: Oʻahu, Maui, Kauaʻi, Hawai’i Island as well as Japan! The competition featured 29 Miss and Master Solo competitors and a total of 461 keiki performing in 82 kahiko and ʻauana hula dances.

Telles-Kuwahara and Kaimana Friez both dance for Hālau Hi’iakaināmakalehua under the direction of Kumu Hula Robert Keano Ka’upu IV and Lono Padilla, and in 2019 the pair walked away with both the Miss and Master Keiki Hula awards. Both newly crowned keiki hula stars said they were shocked after they were announced as the winners that night at the Blaisdell Arena.

“Winning Master Keiki Hula is just unbelievable,” says Telles-Kuwahara. “It’s something hard to describe because I couldn’t even believe it the night that I won it.”

Both Telles-Kuwahara and Friez had the opportunity to travel to Japan and meet halau from another country during Keiki Hula Japan.

Before joining, Hālau Hi’iakaināmakalehua was the only halau Telles-Kuwahara had seen dance. His mother had him join the halau, and he ended up enjoying himself. The rest is history!

“Hula has given me a lot. It made me realize how important it is to perpetuate our culture,” he says. “Dancing hula is more than a meaning, it’s a feeling. It’s hard to describe in words, but as you dance it, that’s how you describe it. Hula is life!”