HILO — Jasmine Kaleihiwa Dunlap of Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela received the highest score from judges on Thursday night, winning the title of Miss Aloha Hula 2015 at the 52nd Merrie Monarch Festival.
Dunlap, 23, impressed the judges and audience alike with stirring performances telling the legends of Pele, Hi’iaka and Hopoe.
For kahiko, Dunlap was on fire the moment she stepped on stage to deliver “He Kau No Hi’iakaikapoliopele,” a chant of praise for Hi’iaka, the youngest sister of Pele. She embodied Pele as she flowed across the stage, fluid as lava.
“It was exhilarating, super exciting and I was just really pumped to get on stage and be within my story and share it with everybody,” said Dunlap after winning the title Thursday.
She and kumu Kau’ionalani Kamana’o and Kunewa Mook (her uncle), traveled throughout Hawai’i island before the competition, visiting significant places in her mele, including Kilauea, Halema’uma’u Crater and Ha’ena.
As she danced, she got lost in the mele.
“I felt like everything around me kind of disappeared, and I was at these places, dancing,” she said. “I truly believed it.”
Her ‘auana, “Hopoe,” which tells of Pele’s destruction of her best friend and lehua trees, was just as stunning, as she brought forth the sorrow Hi’iaka feels, her hands cascading down like tears to her heart. The captivating performance won a standing ovation.
With a score of 1,113 points, Dunlap was the clear winner of the competition. She also took home the Hawaiian Languages award.
A total of 11 dancers vied for the Miss Aloha Hula title Thursday night.
Only a handful of points separated the four runners-up. In second place was Abby Claire Hali’ahauola Resulta of Halau Hi’iakainamakalehua with 1,085 points; finishing third was Noelani Dudoit of Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha’eha’e with 1,080. In fourth place was Jayna Marie Kau’iokalanimalie Shaffer of Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina’ala with 1,074 points. In fifth was ‘Anela U’ilani Ruth Fusano Tanigawa of Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka, with 1,065 points.
As part of Merrie Monarch traditional, last year’s Miss Aloha Hula, Ke’alohilani Tara Eliga Serrao of Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha’eha’e bid adieu with a performance on stage before results were announced. She was a vision decked from head to toe in white, as she once again danced her winning numbers from 2014.
The Merrie Monarch Festival continues with the group kahiko hula competition Friday night and the group ‘auana hula competition Saturday night, followed by the announcement of winners and the awards presentation. For more stories, photos and daily blog updates, visit merriemonarch.staradvertiser.com
Miss Aloha Hula results
>> Jasmine Kaleihiwa Dunlap, Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela, 1,113
>> Abby Claire Hali’ahauola Resulta, Halau Hi’iakainamakalehua, 1,085
>> Noelani Dudoit, Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha’eha’e, 1,080
>> Jayna Marie Kau’iokalanimalie Shaffer, Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina’ala, 1,074
>> ‘Anela U’ilani Ruth Fusano Tanigawa, Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka, 1,065
For more stories, photos and daily blog updates, visit merriemonarch.staradvertiser.com