This is what the discerning Merry Monarch judges are looking for when the group competition begins

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Band competition at the Merry Monarch Festival kicks off Friday night with the hula kahiko.

The ancient dance style is a fan favorite – and an opportunity to showcase a wealth of cultural knowledge.

Kumu hula Frank Kawaikapuokalani of Hewett, 70, has served as a festival judge many times.

He said that judging the festival is a big responsibility that requires a critical eye for accuracy, costume, leis, etc.

How to watch the 60th annual Merry Monarch Festival

He said that the audience will see “a fantastic prospect of hula entertainment”.

“But the judges,” he said, “see it from different eyes.”

Twenty-three sisters are participating in this year’s Merry Monarch Festival.

For a complete list of contestants and judges, Click here.

Hewett is known as one of the masters of hula and is still studying its roots and style.

Special Section: Merry Monarch Festival

“People like me, we’re trained in these different aspects of the hula,” said Hewett, who first became involved with the Merry Monarchs in the early 1970s as a singer. He described the burning torches used in the kahiko (ancient dance) and the colorful costumes used in the auana (modern dance).

While style preferences may have changed over the decades, he says most festivals remain the same and stay true to the timeless roots of Hawaiian culture.

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