HILO >> Kayli Ka‘iulani Carr of Halau Hi‘iakainamakalehua received the highest score from judges on Thursday night, winning the title of Miss Aloha Hula at the 53rd annual Merrie Monarch Festival.
With a total score of 1,134, she soared above the other dancers with an 11-point lead. Brylyn Noelani Aiwohi of Halau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leina‘ala won the Hawaiian Language Award.
Carr, 25, is a Kamehameha Schools graduate who grew up in Makaha and works as a professional dancer at Chief’s Luau at Sea Life Park.
“It felt awesome, wonderful,” Carr said after winning. “I really just tried to be in the moment. I mean, it’s only 14 minutes and you work so hard. You work for four months to get to this point. I didn’t want it to pass me by too quickly.”
Her kumu, Robert Ke‘ano Ka‘upu IV and Lono Padilla, said she worked really hard and grew during the process of preparing for the solo competition.
A total of 12 dancers vied for the Miss Aloha Hula title Thursday night at the Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium. Last year’s Miss Aloha Hula was Jasmine Kaleihiwa Dunlap of Hula Halau ‘o Kamuela.
The Merrie Monarch Festival continues with the group kahiko (ancient-style) hula competition Friday night and the group auana (modern-style) hula competition Saturday night, followed by the announcement of winners and awards.
Miss Aloha Hula results:
>> Kayli Ka‘iulani Carr, Halau Hi‘iakainamakalehua, 1,134
>> Brylyn Noelani Aiwohi, Halau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leina‘ala, 1,123
>> Ecstasy Jetta Laverne Kamakalikolehua Ligon, Ka La ‘Onohi Mai o Ha‘eha‘e, 1,107
>> ʻAulani Kameaʻiʻomakamae Latorre-Holt, Hula Halau ‘o Kamuela, 1,105
>> Kayshlyn Keauliʻimailani Victoria De Sa, Halau o Ka Ua Kani Lehua, 1,090