For the first time ever, the former Miss Aloha Hula's will perform on stage together at this year's Merrie Monarch. The hula competition was added to the Merrie Monarch Festival in 197 – and since then, 42 women have been named Miss Aloha Hula. 26 of those 42 former Miss Aloha Hula's – chosen for how they embodied the beauty of hula – gathered together for the first time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Merrie Monarch with a photo shoot for Mana magazine this February.
"It's a wonderful feeling to be able to see the other ladies and to you know come together 'cause we've never ever had the opportunity to do that, and so I'm very happy to be here and to be a part of this," described Geola Pua Cardoza, Miss Aloha Hula 1983.
Each decade was represented by their own color scheme, which blended together in perfect compliment, as they assembled for a portrait of hula's finest.
"It's amazing. I mean, the energy from all of these women -- it's incredible. It's super humbling. I'm just grateful to be a part of it," said Lilinoe Sterling, Miss Aloha Hula 2012.
In addition to their iconic Mana Magazine photo shoot, the ladies will also be performing together for the first time ever on the Merrie Monarch stage for Ho'ike. Their hula, "Ka Nani A'o Ka'u" is one of Uncle George Na'ope's favorite mele. They're dancing in honor of him and Aunty Dottie Thompson – who are credited with reviving Merrie Monarch when they added the hula competition to the Festival.
"To be able to dedicate this to the two of them-- really, is an honor and a privilege. And we're just filled with so much gratitude to have been blessed with not just the title of Miss Aloha Hula, but to be blessed with their legacy to be able to carry this on-- this year and forever more," said Tracie Lopes, Miss Aloha Hula 1994.
The women are being lead by the original -- and the one and only Miss Hula (before the Aloha was added to the title in 1972) -- Kumu Aloha Dalire.
"Even though a lot of them may not have danced for Uncle George -- he has always considered anybody who danced in Merrie Monarch a part of his family. So I think he's going to be happy-- he's going to have tears in his eyes," said Kumu Aloha Dalire, Miss Hula 1971.
It's history in the making as the ladies embrace hula's past and look toward hula's future.
"Our kuleana as Miss Aloha Hula and the festival itself is to keep that foundation, keep that tradition, and then in the same sense let the world see that hula is moving forward," explained Henohea Kane, Miss Aloha Hula 2009. "As long as you remember the roots and the foundation -- hula is hula."
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