If you love Hawaiian Hula dances, then this festival is for you. The Merrie Monarch Festival is the most famous festival for Hula dancers, with the first prize, Miss Aloha Hula. I have compiled a list of Miss Aloha Hula over the years from 2022 and earlier. All you need is fun to enjoy these amazing performances.
A week-long cultural festival called the Merrie Monarch Festival is held every year in Hilo, Hawaii, the week following Easter. It pays homage to King David Kalkaua, known as the “Merry Monarch” for supporting the arts and credited with reviving many Hawaiian cultural practices, including the hula, during his reign. Each year, a large number of hula (schools), some from the U.S. mainland and others from abroad, attend the festival to take part in the Miss Aloha Hula competition. The festival is regarded as the most prestigious of all hula competitions and has drawn attention worldwide.
Merrie Monarch – Miss Aloha Hula 2022
Piikea Lopes was named Miss Aloha Hula 2022 at the Merrie Monarch Festival this year.
Under the guidance of her parents and kumu hula Tracie and Keawe Lopes, Piikea Kekhenelehuawewehiikekaunohi Lopes earned 1,168 points and won the Hawaiian language prize.
The Puna district of Hawaii is honored in Lopes’ Kahiko performance, “No Puna Ke iwaiwa Hikina,” which also honors the area’s notable pana ‘ina and natural surroundings. The music’s creator, Lolok, exhorts us to hold on to and cherish the traditional references in our mele and mo’olelo that continue to guide us as we make sense of and move through the present. The “Silver Voice Tenor” Bill Ali’iloa Lincoln wrote this mele ho’oheno (song of deep affection) in honor of his home in Kohala. This poetic masterpiece offers beautiful scenery that Kohala locals embrace and treasure in their memories. The puana exhorts us to always take some time to pause and treasure our memories of home.
Merrie Monarch – Miss Aloha Hula 2021
At the 58th Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo, Rosemary Kaimilei Keamoai-Strickland of Ka La Onohi Mai O Haehae was crowned Miss Aloha Hula.
The Kaneohe halau, led by kumu Tracie and Keawe Lopes, won Miss Aloha Hula for the second time; they also won in 2014.
At the Edith Kanaka’ole Stadium in Hilo on Thursday night, a total of seven dancers competed for the Miss Aloha Hula crown. The top two winners were separated by just one point, making it a close race.
This year, there were stringent protocols in place because of the pandemic, such as rules requiring multiple COVID tests, a 5-day isolation period before entering the competition venue, and daily screenings.
Merrie Monarch – Miss Aloha Hula 2019
At the 56th Miss Aloha Hula competition at the Edith Kanakaole Stadium in Hilo, the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival’s Miss Aloha Hula portion concluded with 23-year-old Taizha Keakealani Hughes-Kaluhiokalani winning the 2019 title. Under the guidance of kumu hula Robert Keano Kaupu IV and Lono Padilla, she performs for Oahu’s Hlau Hiiakainmakalehua (formerly of Maui).
She danced to Ke Kele Ulu O Ke Kapu Lloa while pahu played, which is an ancient form of hula. It honored her family history and lineage. She performed an auana (modern-style) hula while dancing to the love song “Akahikuleana A Ka Piko” while wearing a brilliant red dress with a lauhala bodice.
Hughes-Kaluhiokalani scored 1,130 points overall to win both the Hawaiian Language Award and the competition.
Merrie Monarch – Miss Aloha Hula 2018
At the 55th Annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hilo, Hawaii, Shalia Kapuau’ionalani Kikuyo Kamakaokalani of Maui’s Hlau N Lei Kaumaka O Uka won the title of Miss Aloha Hula 2018.
In her kahiko and auana performances, Kamakaokalani, who performs under the direction of kumu Npua Greig, paid homage to Kapiolani and Kaiulani, respectively.
Kamakaokalani performed a kahiko hula while dancing to “Lei No Kapiolani.” This traditional lei chant for Kapiolani has been handed down as a hula noho klaau, according to festival literature. It begins at the renowned fortress at Kauiki in Hana Maui and moves throughout the paeina, emphasizing Kapiolani’s journey to Maui Island.