The Merrie Monarch journey: Matthew Solomon

Date
2017 Merrie Monarch Festival Guide
Place Hilo
Text Ha‘alilio Solomon

Summit invited hula haumana (student) Matthew Miki‘ala "Sol" Solomon to share a little about his journey in preparing for the 2017 Merrie Monarch festival.

Summit (S): What is your favorite thing about preparing for Merrie Monarch?

Matthew Solomon (MS): Many things encompass the joy that comes with Merrie Monarch prep. From giving old oli/mele new life and reliving experiences at these ancient and beloved places in which many of the names only exist in the poetry. Rediscovering these place names is always intriguing to me. Recalling these place names and the events that were happening at the time the composition was written allows you to create an idea of how we lived back then. It’s remarkably exciting.

S: In the time leading up to Merrie Monarch, how does your lifestyle change to prepare for the competition?

MS: I wouldn’t say my lifestyle changes so much as my agenda and diet do. Of course, it takes many hours of commitment and training leading up to competition. Also, I try to have a more balanced diet for the sake of health and fitness and the ability to physically dance my best.

S: How do you personally connect to the mele, hula, oli, or anything else about the performance?

MS: Studying and researching what I can, utilizing several different resources to gain insight to what it is we’re speaking of and personally creating a connection as to why this is significant to you. Hula, as Hawaiians, is our duty. Therefore, any oli/mele I feel inclined to connect with.

S: How does Merrie Monarch inspire you to be a better hula dancer?

MS: There are many hula competitions today, not just in Hawai‘i. But the Merrie Monarch upholds the highest of standards.

S: What does Merrie Monarch mean to you?

MS: It's a completely necessary platform to not only showcase, but preserve our many lines of hula. Hula is something so very significant to the people of Hawai‘i, and something that we were once in danger of being forced to forget.

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