13 women vie for Miss Aloha Hula
|||Hula festival crowd jams laid-back Hilo|
|||Merrie Monarch watch it from home|
By Vicki Viotti
Advertiser Staff Writer
HILO, Hawai'i Technically, the 38th annual Merrie Monarch Festival already is half over, but the dance competition, the crowning glory of this extravaganza, begins tonight with the solo event.
Vote for your favorite Miss Aloha Hula competitor
The competition, which continues with the group kahiko (ancient) and 'auana (modern) contest over the next two days, unfolds as both a reunion with cherished veterans and an introduction to some new faces. The absence of Sonny Ching's high-scoring Halau Na Mamo O Pu'uanahulu, taking a break this year, adds a touch of suspense to the proceedings.
The audience undoubtedly will cheer the return of Hilo's son Johnny Lum Ho with his students, Halau Ka Ua Kani Lehua, an audience favorite if not the choice among judges in recent years. And Chinky Mahoe's male dancers, always scene stealers, will rejoin their sisters of Halau Hula Kawaili'ula.
Among the newcomers hoping to make a mark: Halau Na Mamo O Ka'ala (Noelani Chang, kumu hula); Ka Pa Hula O Kamehameha (Holoua Stender); and Halau I Ka Wekiu (Michael Casupang and Karl Veto Baker).
The influx of Mainland hula troupes has thinned to just two: Keali'i Ceballos and his Los Angeles halau, Keali'i O Nalani, are back; and Halau Ho'ola Ka Mana O Hawai'i Keli'i Chang's school composed of students from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, Texas is returning.
Here are the solo competitors (their teachers' names in parentheses), listed in order of appearance:
- Kaylee Kapuananiikekaihawanawana Weyker, Halau Ho'ola Ka Mana O Hawai'i, Dallas, Texas (Keli'i Chang).
- Makahilahila Lino, Halau Ke Kia'i A O Hula, Honolulu (Kapi'olani Ha'o).
- Cyd La'ie Gasper, Halau Ka Ua Kilihune, Kane'ohe (Al Barcarse).
- Eileen Maihiokalani Estenzo, Na Hula 'O Kaohikukapulani, Hanapepe, Kaua'i (Kapu Kinimaka-Alquiza).
- Meleoka'uka'ulele Hiraiwa, Halau Keali'i O Nalani, Los Angeles (Keali'i Ceballos).
- Noelle Kameali'imailani Shiroma, Halau Hula Olana, 'Aiea (Olana A'i).
- Erika Kanai Kealoha, Halau Na Mamo O Ka'ala, Wai'anae (Noelani Chang).
- Kamealoha Elaban-Hall, Puka'ikapuaokalani, Waimanalo (Ellen Castillo).
- Tamra Leilani Porter, Halau Ka Waikahe Lani Malie, Kailua (Blaine Kia).
- Natasha Kamalamalamaokalailokokapu'uwaimehanaokekeikipunahele Oda, Halau Ka Ua Kani Lehua, Hilo (Johnny Lum Ho).
- Snowbird Puananiopaoakalani Bento, Ka Pa Hula O Kamehameha, Honolulu (Holoua Stender).
- Darmaine Noriko Hokulani Taba, Halau O Na Pua Kukui, Honolulu (Ed Collier).
- Kahikina de Silva, Halau Mohala 'Ilima, Kailua (Mapuana de Silva).