A 21-year-old Maui woman is Miss Aloha Hula 2018.
Shalia Kapuau‘ionalani Kikuyo Kamakaokalani, who dances for Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka under the direction of kumu hula Napua Grieg, won hula’s most coveted solo title Thursday night at the 55th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival.
Cheers erupted from her hula sisters, who were seated in the bleachers directly behind public address announcer Kimo Kahoano in the Edith Kanaka‘ole Multi-Purpose Stadium, just as Kahoano got the new Miss Aloha Hula’s first name out.
Kamakaokalani received a score of 1,130 from the seven judges, five points higher than the first runner-up, Ecstasy Jetta Laverne Kamakalikolehua Ligon of Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e, the Oahu halau that won the overall group title last year.
“I just feel super overwhelmed and speechless,” Kamakaokalani said after receiving the congratulations and ceremonial lei from her fellow Miss Aloha Hulas.
Kamakaokalani earned her bachelor’s degree in Hawaiian studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2017 and plans on being a kumu, or teacher.
“Not necessarily a kumu hula,” she added.
For her hula kahiko, or ancient hula, Kamakaokalani danced “Lei No Kapi‘olani,” a traditional lei chant for Kapi‘olani chronicling her journey to Maui. It is a hula noho kala‘au, a partially seated hula where the dancer uses percussion sticks.
Kamakaokalani’s hula ‘auana, or modern hula, was “Ka‘iulani,” a song praising the princess, who adeptly navigated both the Hawaiian and Western cultures. It was the same song Grieg danced when she vied for Miss Aloha Hula in 1992 for Hilo’s Halau O Ka Ua Kani Lehua and kumu hula Johnny Lum Ho.
Grieg, a recording artist and multiple Na Hoku Hanohano award-winner who just received nine Hoku nominations this year for her album “Makawalu,” sang the mele this time, harmonizing with fellow Hoku winners Mark Yamanaka and Zachary Lum.
“I’m just extremely proud of Shalia,” Grieg said. “She was perfect in my eyes. I was proud of her before the award, so I’m grateful.”
Second-runner up with 1,122 points was Nicole Mailenani Yuen of Hi‘iakainamakalehua, the Oahu halau that produced the previous two Miss Aloha Hulas. Its co-kumu hula, Robert Ke‘ano Ka‘upu IV and Lono Padilla, like Greig, earned their ‘uniki — hula’s formal graduation — under Maui kumu Hokulani Holt-Padilla, Lono Padilla’s mother. Ka‘upu, like Greig, also danced for Lum Ho, which means the past three winners share a common hula lineage.
Taking third runner-up, with 1,096 points, was Asialynn Genoa Kalihilihi‘ulaonalehua‘ohopoe Yap of Kohala’s Halau Manaola under the direction of kumu hula Nani Lim Yap, the contestant’s mother.
Maile Yurika Garrett scored 1,088 points to clinch the fourth runner-up spot for Oahu’s Kawaili‘ula under the direction of kumu hula Chinky Mahoe.
Two Hilo dancers, Alana Maureen Ka‘ano‘anookalani Paiva, a haumana (student) of Lum Ho, and Joelle Nohealani Kalima of Hula Halau O Kou Lima Nani E under the direction of kumu hula Iwalani Kalima also competed. While neither placed, both were warmly received by the audience.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs Hawaiian Language Award was taken by Ligon, whose co-kumu hula, husband-and-wife duo Tracie and Keawe Lopes, both teach Hawaiian language at the collegiate level.
Asked what’s next for the new Miss Aloha Hula, Grieg quipped “kahiko night” — and both laughed.
The group hula kahiko competition is at 6 p.m. tonight at Edith Kanaka‘ole Multi-Purpose Stadium.
The festival wraps up with the group hula ‘auana competition and group awards ceremony Saturday night at 6 p.m.
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.