L - R: COSME students Chalei and Hulali.
L – R: COSME students Chalei and Hulali.

For many, dancing on the Merrie Monarch stage is the highlight of one’s hula career and for two Honolulu CC students they will return to Hilo, Hawai‘i to complete once again in the 2014 Merrie Monarch Festival.  The weeklong festival will feature the hula competition, craft fair, art show, hula shows and a grand parade through Hilo town.

This year, Cosmetology student Hulali Ka‘imi‘āina Ciera DeLima has the honor of representing her halau, Hālau Nā Lei Kaumaka O Uka under the direction of Kumu Nāpua Greig, for the prestigious Miss Aloha Hula title.  This will mark DeLima’s ninth year dancing at the Merrie Monarch competition.

“I am proud to be Hawaiian, share my love for my culture and pay tribute to the kupuna who came before us,” shares DeLima, a Maui native who is currently a second semester Cosmetology student.

Cosmetology was not her first career aspiration.  Hulali has a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education from BYU Hawai‘i.

“I love doing hair and have always had an interest in skin.  Because of a friend’s recommendation I found the Cosmetology program at  Honolulu Community College.”

DeLima gets little rest between classes between performing in Waikīkī and traveling back to Maui every weekend to practice with her hula sisters.  This weekend all of her hard will pay off as she shares what she has been perfecting for months.

Her classmate Chalei Mailanapuaonahala Pu ‘ulei McKee understands well the preparation it takes to dance as your halau’s representative for the Miss Aloha Hula title.  Chalei took 4th place in the 2013 competition as a dancer for Tracie and Keawe Lopes of Ka Lā ‘Ōnohi Mai O Ha‘eha‘eha.

The Paradise Cove lu‘au dancer is a third semester cosmetology student who has always been surrounded by fashion, hair and make-up, especially through entertaining.

“Hula is a lifestyle.  It’s not just about Merrie Monarch.  We dance, we learn about our culture, we mentor the younger dancers – it’s fulfilling,” shares McKee.

When asked what words of advice the veteran Miss Aloha Hula competitor has for her classmate, she simply said, “Dance, just give it!”

The Merrie Monarch Festival will be televised on KFVE Channel 5 this Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.  Tune in and cheer them on!