Thousands of hula dancers, their families, their kumu hulas (teachers) and fans gathered this weekend for the 49th annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival – a sort of Olympics of Hula – traditionally held the weekend after Easter in Hilo on the island of Hawaii.
The three night competition begins with individual hula dancers competing for the title of Miss Aloha Hula.
This year, the title went to Rebecca Lilinoekekapahauomaunakea Sterling of Ka`ōhao from Kailua, Oahu.
She is a student of Kumu Māpuana de Silva and a member of Hālau Mōhala `Ilima.
The second, third and fourth place winners – which include Keahiahi Sharon Long from Ka Pā Hula O Keauanoe O Wa`ahila in Kaimuki (2nd), Brandi Pu`uwainani Hart of Ka Lā `ōnohi Mai O Ha`eha`e (3rd), and Sarah Kamaleialohaiapolionāmākua Noyle – Hālau I Ka Wēkiu (4th) are from Oahu.
Coming in 5th place is Tiana-Lynn Nālani Manuel of Hālau Kekuaokalāʻauʻalaʻiliahi on Maui.
The Hawaiian Language Award went to Keahiahi Sharon Long of Ka Pā Hula O Keauanoe O Wa`ahila on Oahu.
The kahiko or ancient Hawaiian hula group competition took place Friday night, and Saturday evening, the Awana or modern hula portion of the competition continues. Winners are announced Saturday night.
See the event live on KFVE or at http://www.k5thehometeam.com
Here is a series of other photos from the Miss Aloha Hula competition 2012, courtesy of Teresa Tico