Oahu wahine wins Miss Aloha Hula

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For the newly crowned Miss Aloha Hula 2015, the second time’s the charm.

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For the newly crowned Miss Aloha Hula 2015, the second time’s the charm.

Jasmine Kaleihiwa Dunlap was the second-runner up in 2013, but Thursday night, the 23-year-old from Oahu’s Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela took home hula’s most prestigious solo title, as well as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Hawaiian Language Award.

Dunlap’s victory kicked off three days of hula competition at the 52nd Annual Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo.

Her total of 1113 points was 28 points better than the score of the first runner up, Abby Claire Hali‘ahauola Resulta of Halau Hi‘iakanamakalehua, who tallied 1085 points. The second runner-up was Noelani Dudoit of Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e, with 1080 points, followed by Jayna Marie Kau‘iokalanimalie Shaffer of Halau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leina‘ala and ‘Anela U‘ilani Ruth Fusano Tanigawa of Nalau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka, with 1074 points and 1065 points, respectively.

Dunlap tearfully embraced the halau’s kumu hula, Kau‘ionalani Kamana‘o and Kunewa Mook, when her victory was announced.

“I’m so blessed to be this year’s Miss Aloha Hula; I’m so excited,” she said afterwards. “… I love my hula sisters, my family past and present, kumus past and present, so blessed right now.”

The theme of her mele (songs) for both hula kahiko (ancient hula) and hula ‘auana (modern hula) was Pele and Hi‘iaka.

“Pele is such a fierce individual and she’s a strong woman and I aspire to be somebody just as strong as she is. And that’s how I kind of connected to the storyline. I visited Kilauea and I visited Ha‘ena Beach, where my songs were spoken about. … I was so blessed to go to those places and be able to visualize everything and put it into the songs for everybody to see.”

Kamana‘o said for a Miss Aloha Hula contestant, “the second time around is harder than the first time.”

“This time was a little more spiritual for her,” he said. “There was more of a connection with her family lineage, because she’s my cousin. She’s the niece of kumu Kunewa, (and) the great-grandniece of the original founder, Kamuela Nae‘ole.

“… It was a challenge for her, but in the end, she did justice to everything she was supposed to.”

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The competition continues at 6 p.m. tonight at Edith Kanaka‘ole Multipurpose Stadium with the group hula kahiko competition. The festival closes with the group hula ‘auana competition at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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