West competes for Miss Aloha Hula at 50th Merrie Monarch

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Photo by Courtesy of Christine Corpuz

Makana West will be competing in the Miss Aloha Hula competition in the 50th annual Merrie Monarch Festival on Thursday, April 4 in Hilo. West is a member of Wailuku’s Hālaukekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi.

By Landon Ballesteros, news writer

Story update: Sloane Makana West placed second in the Miss Aloha Hula competition behind the winner, Kamehameha alumna Manalani English (’07).

KSM senior Makana West will be representing Wailuku’s Hālaukekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi in the 50th annual Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo, Hawaiʻi, at the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium on Thursday, April 4. West will be competing against eleven other contestants for the prestigious title of Miss Aloha Hula.

The Miss Aloha Hula competition will be broadcast by KFVE news (Channel 5), as well as streamed on k5thehometeam.com, starting at 6:00 p.m. The competition and awards ceremony is expected to last until midnight.

Hālaukekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi is co-led by nā kumu hula ʻIliahi and Haunani Paredes. They chose West, a 5-year member of the hālau, to compete for Miss Aloha Hula last July. West has been preparing for the competition for about six months and will be performing fifth in the lineup. Each contestant dances a hula kahiko (ancient dance) and a hula ʻauana (contemporary dance).

“I feel the ultimate opportunity to make not only my kumu proud, but my hula sisters and brothers, my family, and my ancestors proud,” West said. “It’s a representation of the great hula lineage that I come from.”

West’s hula kahiko honors Queen Emma Rooke. She will be doing a chant entitled, “ʻO Ke Kai o Kaʻula Kaʻu Aloha,” written by the queen’s uncle, Keoni Ana (John Young II), which beckons her to his summer palace, Hanaiakamalama.

West’s hula kaʻi (entering of the stage) will be danced to the chant, “Puka Ka Lā Pāwehi i ka Lani,” which references the rising of the sun at Maui’s Puʻu Kukui and Mauna Kahālāwai.

West’s choice mele is “ʻAuhea Wale ʻOe E Ka ʻŌʻō,” written by Queen Emma while she was mourning the deaths of her husband and son.

West will exit the stage to the chant, “E Hoʻi i ke ʻAla Kūpaoa,” which describes the ʻiliahi and maile plants that grow in Wailuku, welcoming the dancers home. Kumu ʻIliahi wrote the kaʻi and hoʻi chants.

“I absolutely admire nā kumu for their pure desire to teach hula and to share their knowledge,” West said.

Pat Namaka Bacon, a Hawaiian cultural specialist, taught this mele to West’s kumu, so the performance will be a tribute to her.

For the hula kahiko, West will be wearing a monarch-style costume with a Victorian-inspired blouse and a reddish-brown pāʻū hula (skirt).

The hula ʻauana was composed for James Kimo Henderson and his family, and their home Moanikeʻala in Piʻihonua of Hawaiʻi Island.

West’s hula kaʻi and hoʻi will be “Moani ke ʻAla,” written by Emma Nawahi.

West’s main mele will be Helen Desha Beamer’s “Kimo Hula,” written for the natural beauty of Henderson’s Piʻihonua estate, Moanikeʻala. The performance will be a tribute to Beamer, as well as a statement of appreciation to the people of Hilo.

West will be wearing a cream-colored blouse and a deep maroon skirt with pink Nakeʻu Awai prints. The dress is meant to take the audience back in time due to its Edwardian-era inspiration of the early 1900’s.

“When I dance, all negativity and current issues are pushed aside, and I feel free,” West said. “Hula is a means of escape and expression for me, and it has taught me to channel my emotions to a positive outlet.”

This will be the hālau’s second year entering the Merrie Monarch festival. West’s hula brothers will also be performing 18th in the hālau competitions on Friday and Saturday.