A 22-year-old college student from Oahu is Miss Aloha Hula 2014.
Ke‘alohilani Tara Eliga Serrao, who dances for Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e, won the prestigious Merrie Monarch Festival’s solo wahine competition Thursday night at Edith Kanaka‘ole Multipurpose Stadium.
“I feel like I’m dreaming,” she said while accepting congratulations afterwards and being welcomed into the club by the numerous former Miss Aloha Hulas present. That includes her kumu hula Tracie Lopes, who won the coveted title in 1994.
“It’s been 20 years since I won and I just wanted her to have the experience that she would never forget,” said Lopes, the halau’s co-kumu with husband Keawe Lopes. “I knew her from when she was in her mom’s womb and now she’s a grown woman and Miss Aloha Hula.”
It’s the first time a student of the couple has won Miss Aloha Hula. She also won the Hawaiian Language Award.
Serrao’s hula kahiko, or ancient hula, was “A Ka La‘i Au I Mauliola,” a mele inoa, or name chant in honor of Princess Ruth Ke‘elikolani. Her hula ‘auana, or modern hula, was “Ke ‘Ala Ka‘u I Honi,” an expression of affection for Queen Lili‘uokalani.
“If the elders of the hula are pleased, then we’re pleased,” said Keawe Lopes, referring to the judges.
Serrao, who attends Leeward Community College and works for a coffee company, won by a wide margin. First runner-up was Kilioulaninuiamamaoho‘opi‘iwahinekapualokeokalaniakea Lai, granddaughter of kumu hula Aloha Dalire, the first Miss Hula, as the title was called then, and daughter of Kapua Dalire-Moe, Miss Aloha Hula 1991. Her total was 1,089 points.
In third place was Sarah Kapuahelani Sterling of Halau Mohala ‘Ilima under the direction of kumu hula Mapuana de Silva, with 1,082 points.
Amber Kanoelani Rosenberg of Halau Na Mamo O Pu‘uanahula under the direction of kumu hula Sonny Ching and Lopaka Igarta-De Vera took fourth place with 1,079 points.
And in fifth place with 1,076 points was Nicole Nalani Ishibashi of Halau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leina‘ala of Kaua‘i with 1,076 points.
Two young woman represented Hawaii Island in the solo wahine hula competition.
Melia Kau‘ikeonalani Carmen Tanganas represented Halau Na Lei Hiwahiwa O Ku‘ualoha. It was the first time at Merrie Monarch for the Hilo halau directed by kumu hula Sammye Ku‘ualoha Young.
Her hula kahiko was “Ka Ho‘opalua ‘â O Kukahau‘ula Me Poli‘ahu” by kumu hula Micah Kamohoali‘i and her hula ‘auana was “Poliahu I Ke Kapu” by Hawane Rios. Both mele honor Poliahu, the snow goddess atop Mauna Kea.
“I’m very proud of her,” Young said. “It was just magical.”
Leiomalama Tamasese Solomon represented Beamer-Solomon Halau O Po‘ohala of Waimea under the direction of kumu hula Hulali Solomon Covington.
Solomon, Covington’s niece and the daughter of state Sen. Malama Solomon, danced “He Wahine Kapu ‘O Pele” for her hula kahiko and a medley of songs written by Leiomalama’s great-great-grandmother, the noted composer Helen Desha Beamer, for her hula ‘auana.
“I was blessed to be out there and so grateful,” Solomon said. “I was so honored to be able to dance great-great-grandmother’s songs.”
Said Covington: “She did a beautiful job representing the Beamer legacy.”
Email John Burnett at email@example.com.