Almost a year ago, a childhood dream came true for aspiring hula dancer Kayli Ka‘iulani Carr at the Merrie Monarch Festival–the world-renowned hula competition. That evening, Carr took the stage twice, representing Kumu Hula Robert Ke‘ano Ka‘upu IV and Lono Padilla’s Hālau Hi‘iakaināmakalehua. First came her powerful kahiko (traditional) solo performance—replete with a lengthy, rapid-fire oli (chant)—followed later on by her beautiful ‘auana (contemporary) piece. When Carr was later declared Miss Aloha Hula, it wasn’t just a momentous moment for the Mākaha native—but a surprise as well. “I didn’t think I was going to win,” she confesses.