HILO >> Manalani Mili Hokoana English of Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka is still on a cloud after having won the Miss Aloha Hula title on Thursday night.
During the halau’s excursion to the Kilauea Caldera at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park this morning, she was still on a cloud, but said she had to ground herself to prepare for the group kahiko competition tonight with all of her hula sisters.
“Today is a new day,” said her kumu hula Napua Greig. “She definitely represented us all well last night, but tonight, she steps back into (the dance) line.”
English, 24, of Waiohuli, Maui, also won the Hawaiian Language Award.
It was English’s second time competing for Miss Aloha Hula. In 2011, she was first runner-up, coming behind Maui dancer Tori Hulali Canha of Halau Ke‘alaokamaile by just three points.
This time, she netted a score of 1057, which helped her soar to the top, 15 points above Sloane Makana West of Halau Kekuaokala‘au‘ala‘iliahi, also of Maui.
English has been dancing since she was nine years old for kumu hula Greig and Kahulu Maluo.
She had been preparing for the Miss Aloha Hula contest since October, flying back and forth between Maui and Oahu, where she is a student at Kapiolani Community College studying radiation technology.
Greig said she and Maluo chose English again this year because they felt in her hearts that she was a Miss Aloha Hula and the best representative for the halau.
This is the first time her halau has taken the Miss Aloha Hula title.
“Malani for us represents 17 years of teaching hula,” said Greig, referring to when the halau started. “It was a wonderful journey. Everything fell into place.”
Maluo said: “We try not to expect anything, but we worked really hard. She’s been really diligent.”
English’s voice was strong and expressive as she delivered an impressive oli (chant) for her kahiko number, “‘Auhea Wale ‘Oe E Ka Ua Noe,” which describes a slow moving rain as a metaphor for the sensual pleasures of lovemaking between a man and a woman.
For auana, she floated gracefully on stage as she danced “E Pili Mai,” beckoning her sweetheart to come and be her “lei of the night.”
Originally, the mele (song) had only one verse, but in December, composer Larry Lindsey Kimura added two more verses for the halau to use at Merrie Monarch. Peter Moon composed the music.
English credited family and her hula sisters for helping her win the title. “I’m Miss Aloha Hula only because of the people behind me,” she said.”
The Merrie Monarch Festival continues tonight and tomorrow with the halau competitions.
Miss Aloha Hula results
Manalani Mili Hokoana English, Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka, 1057 points
Sloane Makana West, Halau Kekuaokala‘au‘ala‘iliahi, 1042 points
Jasmine Kaleihiwa Dunlap, Hula Halau ‘O Kamuela, 1041 points
Chalei Malianapuaonahala Pu‘ulei McKee, Ka La ‘Onohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘e, 1039 points
Whitney Pi‘ilani Baldwin Schneider-Furuya, Halau I Ka Wekiu, 1033 points