Senior Kyleigh Manuel-Sagon is the morning star of hula


Nattharika Kaonachaithawon

Seabury Hall senior Kyleigh Manuel-Sagon is joined with sophomore Deaja Vinoray after her win at the Hula O Nā Keiki on Saturday, Nov. 14 of 2015. Manuel-Sagon and Vinoray dance in the same halau.

Nattharika Kaonachaithawon, Staff Writer

At a young age, Seabury Hall senior Kyleigh Manuel-Sagon started dancing hula. She fell in love with the many aspects of this form of art, dancing with grace and passion for her halau ohana as well as her own family. Under the influence of ‘Iliahi and Haunani Paredes, Manuel-Sagon dances with Halau Kekuaokala’au’ala’iliahi.

At the Hula O Nā Keiki competition held on Friday, Nov. 13 and Saturday, Nov. 14 of 2015 at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel in Lahaina, Manuel-Sagon took the winning wahine award. She said, “I won Hula O Nā Keiki for my halau and my family.”

As the Hula O Nā Keiki competition approached, Manuel-Sagon started to practice with her Kumu Haunani. She explained that she spent two months practicing and going over her routine to perfect it. In those two months, she practiced three days a week.

At rehearsals, she was asked to show more feeling, but to her, she really did not feel anything until it was time to perform on stage. Manuel-Sagon admitted that she does not have a favorite moment from the competition, but she said, “I was dressed up, makeup was done, my hair was done, my costume was there and all my flowers. I felt like Hollywood.”

Manuel-Sagon started dancing hula at the age of five years old. Her inspiration comes from her mother who has danced on the Merrie Monarch stage.

She described the feeling of being in a halau as though they are family. “We’re all super close,” she says. She also admits to being nervous when it is time to be a soloist.

Halau Kekuaokala’au’ala’iliahi has been up and running since 2004 which is about eleven years ago. Manuel-Sagon has been dancing for the halau for over 10 years. Her kumus refer to her as Hokuao because that is the Hawaiian name that her parents have given her.

In an e-mail interview Kumu Ke`ala`iliahi said, “Kyleigh (Hokuao) is a beautiful hula dancer – graceful, elegant, and full of control – and, most importantly, she is a wonderful student.” He also added that her future will sure be bright.

Also in an e-mail interview, Kumu Ke`ala`iliahi said, “Kyleigh (Hokuao) has blossomed over the past 10 years with us. She came to us as a shy and quiet young girl; she needed to build her self-confidence, and she had loads of potential. Over the years, she has dedicated herself to hula, and she focused her passion towards elevating herself spiritually, mentally, and physically in the art form.”

Hula is a dance that is not easy to accomplish; you have to really fall in love with it and put in effort. When asked why she loved to dance hula, she said, “It’s the way for me to express my feelings.” When she does not know how to explain something, she knows that she can explain it through hula and dance it out.

As a representative of Halau Kekuaokala’au’ala’iliahi, Manuel-Sagon gives her best in practices and on stage. Hula to her is something that she has always loved. She has tried other sports and activities, but she always goes back to hula because it is something she truly gives her all to. As the end of her senior year approaches, she spends as much time as she can dancing hula before going to college. But nothing will stop her because she also plans to go back to hula when she can.