Today, I bring to you Kayli Ka’iulani Carr, Miss Aloha Hula 2016. This relative newcomer to the professional Hula scene (a real thing, by the way), blew away the competition at the 2016 Merrie Monarch festival with her kahiko, “Eō Keōpūolani Kauhiakama,” a traditional dance exalting the royal line of Liholiho. She also killed with her oli (chant), “Mele Inoa No Kīhāpiʻilani.” She’s movie-star-beautiful, and very, very committed to her art.
Carr began her career in 2009 when she joined Hālau (Hula school) Hiʻiakainamakalehua, rising fairly quickly through the ranks to become the school’s nominee for the Miss Aloha Hula solo competition by 2016. Not just a magnificent dancer, Carr is a great ambassador, too. She does a pretty good job of explaining to us haoles the difference between the Hula we have seen and the tradition of her people. She says that dancing Hula for tourists is to real traditional Hula like American Chinese food is to real Chinese food. That is abundantly clear in these videos!
Ka’iulani Carr’s reign ended in April of 2017, but you’ll never guess who took her place… Her sister, Kelina Kiyoko Ke‘ano‘ilehua Tiffany Eldredge! What a talented family.
You can see Carr’s winning performance here. (Sorry. Couldn’t figure out now to embed it. Stupid Facebook videos.)
And there’s a wonderful mini feature that Great Big Story did on Carr where you can see more snippets of her performances and learn a bit about the path to becoming a professional Hula dancer.