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Maui dancers take first place at hula festival in California

Na Hula Kupuna O Kaunoa of Maui took first-place honors at the ninth annual George Na’ope Hula Festival, held in Sacramento, Calif., in July.

The ladies, under the direction of kumu hula Lucky Cabral, took first place in the wahine kupuna group division. Alyka Nakoa-Clark won first place in the kane kupuna solo division.

This was the first time Cabral entered her ladies and men in the competition, a news release said.

It is also a first that a Maui kupuna (elder) group has entered the competition, the release said.

The three-day competition was held July 17-19 at the Holiday Inn Sacramento and featured halau from Oahu, Big Island, Las Vegas and California.

The Kaunoa group was the only one from Maui, according to the event website.

Judges are notable teachers themselves. They were Keala Ching, Etua Lopes, Chinky Mahoe and Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu, a release said.

The late George Na’ope was a longtime celebrated kumu hula and was a co-founder of the Merrie Monarch annual hula festival on the Big Island.