Hula Hālau ‘o Keikiali’i hula kahiko San Francisco, California Performing traditional hulas, ancient and new, from over 400 years of Hawaiian history under the leadership of Kumu (master teacher) Kawika Alfiche, this beautiful ensemble embodies the traditional values at the heart of Hawaiian identity. Dancing in the style of the Island of Hawai’i, known as […]
- hula kahiko
- San Francisco, California
Performing traditional hulas, ancient and new, from over 400 years of Hawaiian history under the leadership of Kumu (master teacher) Kawika Alfiche, this beautiful ensemble embodies the traditional values at the heart of Hawaiian identity. Dancing in the style of the Island of Hawai’i, known as the Big Island, the group’s hula kahiko, or ancient hula, is energetic, grounded, filled with powerful chanting and dynamic movements which reflect the beauty and vitality of their volcanic homeland.
Throughout that history, hula has been a primary means of transmitting Hawaiian culture, experience, and values. In performance, traditional hula hālaus (schools) and troupes share the rich culture of Hawai’i with the world, with the belief that, as Kumu Kawika says, “hula can only do good for people.” For the members of Hula Hālau ’o Keikiali’i, the extensive preparation that precedes performance is as full of meaning as the dance itself. At the Kaululehua Hawaiian Cultural Center in South San Francisco, members of the hālau cultivate native flora and painstakingly assemble their own regalia, making manifest their “total connection to the land” and full participation in the dance and the culture it represents.
Hula Hālau ’o Keikiali’i was founded in San Francisco in 1994, when Kumu Kawika’s teacher, Aunty Harriet Keahilihau-Spalding, gave him the kuleana, or responsibility, to lead the school and to continue its mission of educating mainlanders about Hawaiian culture. As Kawika jokes now, kuleana also means “you have no choice” – this role in preserving Hawaiian culture chose him. While leading the school in California, he also continued his studies under Kumu Rae Kahikilaulani Fonseca in Hawai’i, eventually becoming one of only six students that the late Kumu Rae formally recognized in his 30 years of teaching. Today, Kumu Kawika plays a leading role in carrying on the storied hula legacy of the Big Island.
Each dance the hālau performs, Kumu Kawika says, is an offering. Sometimes the offering is very specific: among the dances Hula Hālau ’o Keikiali’i will perform are songs to honor Pele, the goddess of the volcano, and her sister Hi’iaka, the goddess of the hula, the healer of the people and the land. But in every dance, an offering is given to the audience, sharing the spirit of the hula with people of all cultures. As New York Times dance critic Roslyn Sulcas noted, Hula Hālau ’o Keikiali’i’s “gentleness, sensuousness, playfulness and a belief in the simultaneity of the past and the present — that those who came before you live on through memory and the enactment of ritual.
Bio provided by the Richmond Folk Festival