Maui No Ka ‘Oi: Manalani is Miss Aloha Hula 2013
By Wendy Osher
Hilo, HI–Maui took top honors in the first night of the 50th Anniversary edition of the Merrie Monarch hula festival in Hilo, Hawai’i, with both entrants from the Valley Isle taking the top two spots in the first night of competition.
Earning the coveted title of Miss Aloha Hula 2013 was Manalani Mili Hokoana English of Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka, under the direction of na kumu hula Napua Greig and Kahulu Maluo of Kula, Maui.
The judges awarded English 1057 points for the title. English was also awarded the Hawaiian Language Award presented by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
The title comes after a similar one-two sweep for Maui in 2011 when English finished just three points shy of the title. Now, two years later and 15 points ahead of her nearest competitor, English has earned what no other can claim–the Golden Anniversary title for Miss Aloha Hula.
To begin her reign, English will participate in the upcoming Royal Parade, scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 6, in Downtown Hilo. The parade starts at Pauahi Street, then continues to Kilauea Avenue, Keawe Street, Waianuenue Avenue, and Kamehameha Avenue, before returning to Pauahi.
Fellow Mauian, Sloane Makana West of Halau Kekuaokala’au’ala’iliahi, under the direction of na kumu hula ‘Iliahi and Haunani Paredes, took second place this year with 1042.
In the Kahiko portion of the competition, English performed to a mele ho’oipoipo, “‘Auhea Wale ‘Oe E Ka Ua Noe”, a song that uses the elements of nature to describe the sensual attraction between two lovers. According to festival literature, the song speaks of the “slow moving rain Ko’iaweawe and the rainbow-hued rain Ka Ua Lei Kokko’ula” to illustrate the “imagery of lovemaking and the attraction between kane and wahine.”
In her ‘Auana selection–“E Pili Mai”–English also performed to a mele or song about love. The festival program provides an interpretation of the verses saying, “Ku’u lei o ka po, is a metaphor for my sweetheart, my lei of the night.”
Other dancers who placed in the first night of competition included: 3rd Place (1041)–Jasmine Kaleihiwa Dunlap of Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela; 4th Place (1039)–Chalei Malianapuaonahala Pu’ulei McKee of Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha’eha’e; and 5th Place (1033)–Whitney Pi’ilani Baldwin Schneider-Furya of Halau I Ka Wekiu.
The festival continues with groups competing in Hula Kahiko on Friday, April 5; and Hula ‘Auana on Saturday, April 6. Maui’s Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka is listed as the 13th performance; and Maui’s Halau Kekuaokala’au’ala’iliahi is listed as the 18th performance (third after intermission) on both nights.