HILO (HawaiiNewsNow) - A dancer from Oahu earned the coveted Miss Aloha Hula title Thursday night at the 56th annual Merrie Monarch Festival.
Taizha Keakealani Hughes-Kaluhiokalani was crowned this year’s winner after wowing the judges with her kahiko and 'auana at the Edith Kanakaole Stadium in Hilo.
She describes the feeling of being on stage as “electrifying.”
“The energy, the feeling of even walking into the stadium, I could immediately feel just, I could feel my kupuna,” Hughes-Kaluhiokalani said. “I knew they were surrounding me, I knew they were coming out of me. It was a magical, magical feeling.”
She also won the Olelo Hawaii — Hawaiian language — award.
Hughes-Kaluhiokalani represented Halau Hiiakainamakalehua, of Kalihi, dancing under the direction of Na Kumu Lono Padilla and Rob Keano Kaupu. This is the halau’s third Merrie Monarch Miss Aloha Hula win in four years.
“Without them, this couldn’t have been possible,” Hughes-Kaluhiokalani said.
Thirteen dancers took to the stage to vie for the Miss Aloha Hula title, having only seven minutes for each kahiko and 'auana performance.
The Merrie Monarch Festival continues Friday night with the Hula Kahiko competition.