HONOLULU - Halau Kekuaokala'au'ala'iliahi of Maui brought home three first places, sweeping the Miss
Keiki Hula and Master Keiki Hula honors at the Queen Liliu'okalani Keiki Hula Festival that ended Saturday night.
Dancing on Thursday night at the Blaisdell Center Arena, Lexi Mae Kamakanaokalani Pruse, a 5th-grader at Kamehameha Schools Maui, took the event's Miss Keiki Hula honors, and Alema 'Ulaleo Ebana, a 4th-grader at Kamehameha Schools Maui, captured the Master Keiki Hula award.
Lexi Mae Kamakanaokalani Pruse of Halau Kekuaokala‘au‘ala‘iliahi of Maui captured Miss Keiki Hula honors at the Queen Liliu‘okalani Keiki Hula Festival on Thursday on Oahu. She danced to ‘‘ ‘Olu o Pu‘ulani.”
KALANI WONG photo
The halau under the direction of 'Iliahi and Haunani Paredes also captured the halau's first overall girls title Saturday evening in the six years of competing in the event. The girls troupe captured first in kahiko (ancient hula) and fifth in auana (modern hula).
The boys troupe took second in kahiko and auana.
The individual competitions were held on Haunani Paredes' birthday.
"It was a wonderful birthday present," said 'Iliahi Paredes on Saturday night from the Blaisdell Center.
"These two, they work so hard in preparing for keiki hula," he said of Lexi and Alema.
The competition did not stress them out, though, he said.
They were able to "have fun and to show the sweetness and the strength that is in them," he said.
Lexi, 11, is the second Miss Keiki winner for the halau, and Alema is the fourth Master Keiki winner at the competition. This is the first time the halau captured both titles in the same year.
Lexi, the daughter of Craig and Dikki-Lee Pruse of Makawao, danced to the hula 'Olu o Pu'ulani, which was composed by Helen Ke'alanohea Lindsey Parker for her sister, Mamie, her family and the homestead of Pu'ulani at Waiakoa on Molokai. Mamie's son, Henry K. Pu'ulewi Jr., contracted leprosy and was sent to Kalaupapa.
"In this beautiful and inspirational mele, the composer urges her nephew to find strength, peace and comfort within the fond memories of Pu'ulani, the homeland and his family," a summary of the hula said.
Lexi's costume was designed to reflect "the grace and style of the early 1900s" when the hula was composed. Yards of vintage white eyelet lace fabric were used to make Lexi's "schoolgirl" dress. A green sash was worn to honor Molokai.
Alema, 10, the son of Benjamin and Elizabeth Ebana of Wailuku, danced to the hula "Waiahole E" by Kumu Hula OBrian Eselu, under whom Alema's dad and 'Iliahi Paredes danced.
"OBrian always encouraged Alema to dance for his uncle, 'Iliahi, and when Alema began his hula journey with our halau three years ago, OBrian could not have been more ecstatic," a summary of Alema's hula said.
The late kumu hula made it a point to drive Alema to each locale mentioned in the mele in late January. Eselu, 56, died in April.
"For Alema, an LDS (Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) member, this presentation touches deep within his soul - it's a celebration of his everlasting faith and love for his hula," the summary of the hula said.
Alema wore a long-sleeved, collared shirt made of bright light-green textured raw silk. The fabric's natural shine was characteristic of what Eselu loved to see in male auana costumes.
There were 27 dancers in the girls halau competition. They danced to "Kama'e" for kahiko and "Aloha Kaho'olawe" for auana.
"Kama'e" is a combination of standing and sitting and gesturing hula, or 'anoho. The girls wore Victorian-era blouses made of white cotton broadcloth fabric.
The girls auana entry about Kahoolawe was composed by 'Ihiahi Paredes in the mid-1990s when he was a student at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.
Kahoolawe has touched Haunani Paredes, too. When she was in grade school, Paredes would often witness the military target-bombing maneuvers on the island from her classroom window.
She didn't understand the full ramifications of the bombing then but "a deep sense of sadness inexplicably filled" her soul, the summary of the hula said. She has since been able to work on the restoration and rehabilitation of the island.
The halau also captured the Hawaiian language award.
* Lee Imada can be reached at email@example.com.