Three Maui Dancers Compete for 2015 Miss Aloha Hula Title
By Wendy Osher
The 2015 Merrie Monarch Hula Festival kicks off this week with Hōʻike performances tonight featuring an exhibition of hula and folk dance from around the Pacific at the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium in Hilo, Hawaiʻi.
The week-long 52nd Annual Merrie Monarch Festival continues with the Miss Aloha Hula competition on Thursday night, and two nights of group competition with kahiko or ancient hula on Friday and ʻauana or modern hula on Saturday.
Three Maui hālau are competing this year including: the men and women of Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi, under the direction of nā kumu hula ʻIliahi & Haunani Paredes; the wahine dancers from Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka, kumu hula Nāpua Greig; and the women of Moanaʻs Hula Hālau, under the direction of nā kumu hula Raquel Dudoit and Valerie Dudoit-Temahaga.
Miss Aloha Hula Maui Contestants:
Kelsey Marie Kuʻulei Miliama Haina Galago: dances for Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi, under the direction of nā kumu hula ʻIliahi & Haunani Paredes. She will be performing 3rd in the lineup on Thursday night with her kahiko selection, and 3rd after intermission with her auana.
- Kelsey’s kahiko hula is a mele lei that travels to the East Maui region of Hāna. “Lei No Kapiʻolani,” was composed in honor of Esther Julia Kapiʻolani Napelakapuokakaʻe, Queen Consort of King David Kalākaua, according to information compiled by the festival. This particular mele mentions famous place names of Hāna including Kaʻuiki Hill at Hāna Bay, the hinano blossoms at Māpuana, Honokalani at Waiʻānapanapa and Nānuʻalele.
- In her ʻauana selection, Kelsey travels to Keaukaha on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi, praised for the Hawaiian homesteads that were established there in 1924. “Kuʻu Home ʻO Keaukaha is a mele aloha ʻāina in honor of Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole, who is credited with establishing the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act that provides homestead lands for Native Hawaiians. “The composer calls for the people of Keaukaha to work together with love so that the life of the land will be perpetuated forever in righteousness.
ʻĀnela Uʻilani Ruth Fusano Tanigawa: dances with Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka, kumu hula Nāpua Greig. She is scheduled to perform her kahiko selection as the eighth dancer in the lineup, and will take the stage again as the eighth number after intermission with her ʻauana selection.
- ʻĀnela performs her kahiko to “Nanimauloa,” a mele that was taken from Buke Mele Lāhui. According to festival literature, it is “one part of a handful of poetic mele chosen to depict the different facets of life of our people during a time of political strife.” The mele is described as a “counter-narrative” to other mele that focus on the tragic end to the kingdom. This mele speaks of “Nanimauloa,” an “everlasting beauty.”
- In her ʻauana selection, ʻĀnela will dance to John Almeida’s “Ke Aloha O Kāua,” a love song, described as a “poetic delight,” that explores the “different emotions and thrills of love.”
Larriley Kehaulani Kaleonahe Kekahuna Rawlins: is a haumana or student of Moanaʻs Hula Hālau on Molokaʻi, under the direction of nā kumu hula Raquel Dudoit and Valerie Dudoit-Temahaga. She is scheduled to perform 2nd in the lineup with her kahiko selection on Thursday night, and 2nd after intermission with her ʻauana selection.
- Larriley’s kahiko hula is to the mele “Ke ʻAla E Moani Mai,” which speaks of the beauty of Queen Emma Kaleleonālani.
- In honor of her home island, Larriley will perform “Aloha E Molokaʻi.” According to information compiled by the festival, the mele speaks of “Hina and the famed prophet Lanikāula who lived in the kukui grove of the same name.” It was reportedly composed by Zellie Sherwood Duvachelle for a family reunion, and later revisited for additional writing by Kimo Alama Keaulana “because the original lyrics were lost.”
The 2015 Miss Aloha Hula winner will be crowned following competition on Thursday night and will participate in the festival parade on Saturday morning through Hilo town.
On Thursday and Friday night, Maui’s hālau will appear in group competition with Moanaʻs Hula Hālau scheduled 3rd; the women of Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi scheduled 7th; and the men of Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi will perform 14th.
The event concludes with a presentation of awards following the group ʻauana competition on Saturday night. For those who could not make it to Hilo this year, the event is being carried live via televised coverage on KFVE and live streaming.