HILO >> Rebecca Lilinoekekapahauomaunakea Sterling of Halau Mohala ‘Ilima from Oahu capped 20 years of hula with two memorable performances and the dance’s most prestigious title Thursday night.
Sterling, 24, of Kailua, won the Miss Aloha Hula contest at the Merrie Moarch festival at the Edith Kanaka’ole Tennis Stadium in Hilo. She has been dancing with kumu hula Mapuana de Silva since the age of four.
“Honestly, I was just dancing for my family and for the Hawaiian people as a whole,” said Sterling after winning the title. “All of my kupuna were dancing through me and I was dancing for them. I’m very grateful.”
Known to family and friends as “Lilinoe,” Sterling delivered a strong and solid performance of her kahiko number, "He Inoa No Kaleimakali‘i." For her auana, she connected well with the audience in her graceful performance of “He Inoa No Na Keiki O Ka Bana Lahui,” a mele best known today as “Kaulana Na Pua.”
“I’m just full of pride and joy,” said kumu de Silva. “I think that everything we did to prepare for this, and everything that happened as it unfolded was pono, was done well.”
Keahiahi Sharon Long of Ka Pa Hula O Kauanoe O Wa‘ahila under the direction of kumu hula Maelia Loebenstein Carter, came in second place and also won the language award.
The Merrie Monarch festival continues tonight and tomorrow with the halau competition.
Miss Aloha Hula results
Rebecca Lilinoekekapahauomaunakea Sterling
Halau Mohala ‘Ilima, Kaohao
Kumu Mapuana de Silva
Keahiahi Sharon Long
Ka Pa Hula O Kauanoe O Wa‘ahila, Kaimuki
Kumu Maelia Loebenstein Carter
Brandi Pu‘uwainani Hart
Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e, Kahauiki
Kumu Tracie and Keawe Lopes
Sarah Kamaleialohaikapolionamakua Noyle
Halau I Ka Wekiu, Pauoa
Kumus Karl Veto Baker and Michael Casupang
Tiana-Lynn Nalani Manuel
Halau Kekuaokala‘au‘ala‘iliahi, Wailuku, Maui
Kumu ‘Iliahi & Haunani Paredes