Nānā I Ke Kumu is a program that features Artists in Residence and an interactive Cultural Workshop Series that are led by notable Native Hawaiian master artists and cultural practitioners.
KALANI AKANA, Ph.D
Bio: Dr. Kalani Akana is a Kumu Hula, an ʻūniki graduate of Ka Pā Hula Hawaiʻi under Kahaʻi Topolinski. He continues to teach students the art of oli (chant) as learned from his aunt, Hoʻoulu Richards, as well as Nona Beamer, Kalena Silva, and Edith McKinzie.
He has mentored students in oli and hei (string figures) as a master teacher under the State Foundation of Culture and Arts. His Ph.D dissertation in Curriculum Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi concentrated on revitalizing language and culture through performances such as hei, and was published in Indigenous Voices Research, Hūlili VIII: Multidisciplinary research on Hawaiian well-being and others. He studied painting with Master Artist and MAMo award recipient, Joe Hauʻoli Dowson, and continues to write poetry which has appeared in Tinfish, ʻŌiwi Journal, Bamboo Ridge and Mai Paʻa I Ka Leo.
ROBERT ULUWEHI CAZIMERO
Artist Statement: “Nothing happens by accident. I was meant to be taught by Ma‘iki Aiu Lake. And above all I know this to be truer than true…hula is life, every aspect of it, and we all can be made better for daring to dance.”
Bio: Award winning composer, arranger, singer, recording artist, director, choreographer, choral director, USA Ford Fellow of Music, and Hawaiian kumu hula, Robert Uluwehionāpuaikawekiuokalani Cazimero was born in Honolulu to parents Elizabeth Kapeka Meheula and William Kaʻaihue Cazimero, Sr., and was third youngest of a family of twelve children…only his sibling twins, Kanoe and Roland, were younger. Robert was raised in a musical family. Robert and Roland both played with their parents, with sister, Kanoe, as a featured hula dancer. Robert and Roland joined Peter Moon in 1969 as “Sunday Mānoa,” and the pair formed as the award-winning “The Brothers Cazimero” in 1977.
Robert’s hula career began when he met his kumu, Maiki Aiu Lake, while a student at Kamehameha Schools. Robert was part of Aiu’s largest, and possibly most famous, 1973 ʻUniki Lehua class. It is during this time that Robert embraced his kumu and her mantra, “Hula Is Life.”
Bio: Moses Goods is one of Hawaiʻi’s most prominent theatre artists. Originally from the island of Maui and now based in Honolulu he has traveled nationally and internationally performing his original work to a wide range of audiences. His body of work ranges from full length plays to theatrical storytelling pieces most of which are strongly rooted in Native Hawaiian culture.
Currently his one-man show DUKE is touring throughout the Hawaiian Islands as well as the Continental U.S. Originally produced by Honolulu Theatre for Youth, DUKE is an unforgettable portrayal the life of Olympic gold medalist and father of modern surfing Duke Paoa Kahanamoku.
Moses is also the founder and artistic director of ʻInamona Theatre Company, an organization dedicated to reintroducing the native stories of Hawaiʻi to the community. ʻInamona is a traditional Hawaiian relish made from the roasted kernel of the kukui (candlenut). It is sprinkled sparingly over mea ʻai (nourishing food) to gently enhance the natural flavor. Moses believes that no matter how skilled the storyteller, his (or her) work is merely a condiment to the greater sustenance. The true “mea ʻai” are the stories that have come before us, the stories of our ancestors.
MICHAEL KAWIKA LUM
Bio: Kawika Lum, born 1976, is a hulu (feather) artist from Pūpūkea, Oʻahu. He started learning lei hulu from Paulette Kahalepuna in 1997 at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. While at the Univeristy of Hawaiʻi, he studied Natural Enviroment and Fiber Arts within the Hawaiian Studies program and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 2001. Kawika’s fiber arts teacher at the university was 2013 MAMo Awardee, Maile Andrade.
Kawika has been an active artist participant in MAMo: Maoli Arts Movement since 2012, and in 2013, was awarded a master’s Apprenticeship through the Hawaiʻi State State Foundation in the Culture and the Arts with his hulu master, Paullette Kahalepuna (2014 MAMo Awardee, and 2014 ʻŌʻō Awards Recepient). Under this apprenticeship with Paullette, Kawika studied Hawaiian feather work in the forms of lei (adornment), kahili (feather standard), ahuʻula (cape), and mahiʻole (helmets). He also studied works from traditional materials, and how to use, cultivate, and preserve these materials.
While respecting and using the traditional materials, he also uses modern materials with traditional practices to create contemporary art pieces. In 2021, Kawika was awarded the United States Artist Award.
NĀ KAMALEI O LĪLĪLEHUA
Artist Statement: “Hula is the art of Hawaiian dance, expressing everything we hear, see, smell, taste, touch and feel. Hula is life.” -Maiki Aiu Lake
Bio: The understanding of hula lineage, the actual tracing of a dancer’s history, is an important concept engrained in all members of Hālau Nā Kamalei by Robert Cazimero. It was in 1966 that he himself was introduced to the woman who would eventually teach him in the ways of hula. Maʻiki Aiu Lake was a prolific teacher of hula, with the desire that each person express all they hear, see, smell, taste, touch and feel through this form of dance…in other words, she taught hula is life.
In 1975 Cazimero; and his hula brother, Wayne Y. Chang; formed a dancing group, Hālau Nā Kamalei O Līlīlehua, that started with six young Hawaiian men. Dedicating his energy to the vanishing tradition of male hula, Hālau Nā Kamalei has inspired hundreds of men to perpetuate the traditional Hawaiian dance form. Hālau Nā Kamalei is one of Hawaiʻi’s most highly respected male hālau, and are also noted as vocalists, releasing their debut CD, “RCHNK” in 2000. They have won critical acclaim and awards at the annual Merrie Monarch Festival Competition, the world’s largest Hawaiian hula competition, choosing to participate every ten years. It’s sweeping win at Merrie Monarch in 2005 was featured in the PBS special, “Nā Kamalei: Men of Hula.
The gents of Nā Kamalei have performed around the world, from the stage of Carnegie Hall in New York to stages in Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle.
WILLIAM KEOUA NELSEN
Artist Statement: “In my hands…I see my grandmother’s hands. In my hands I see my past – my grandmother, her sisters, her mother, her mother’s mother and so on – my ancestors; it is they who inspire me and fuel my creativity. In my hands I know my past, my history, my genealogy! I am #ALegacyWeaver.”
Bio: Keoua Nelson grew up in Napoʻopoʻo, South Kona on the hores of Kealakekua Bay and comes from a long line of lauhala weavers from Kona; both of his great-grandmothers, Lucy Keliʻihelewalemahuna (Kaʻalekahi) Grace and Gracey Kaleihulumamo (Grace) Gaspar, learned their skills from their mothers. While the women in the famiyl were relegated to weaving the lauhala products, it was the men in the family who were tasked with caring, cleaning and preparing leaves from the pū hala. As a teenager, Keoua’s maternal grandmother, Lilian Alepoki (Grace) Nelson, tried to teach Keoua those skills that were passed down. As hard as she tried, Keoua could never understand the concepts and in his words was “all thumbs”. So, he felt that it was his duty to collect and prepare the hala for his grandmother and grand aunts who wove daily.
It wasn’t until Keoua started learning his ʻōlelo makuahine that he realized that it was his responsibility to perpetuate those skills that his kūpuna possessed lest they be lost. In 2008, Keoua took his first weaving class from Gwen Kamisugi and Lorna Pacheco, both students of Aunty Gladys Grace.
Keoua’s mission is to continue to learn all that there is to learn regarding weaving lauhala and other natural fibers and considers himself lucky to have such great kumu as Auny Gladys, Aunty Gwen, Aunty Lorna and Pohaku Kahoʻohanohano. While he is unable to learn from his grandmother, it is as if he learned from her through Aunty Gladys.
VICKY HOLT TAKAMINE
Bio: Vicky Holt Takamine is a renowned kumu hula (master teacher of Hawaiian dance). She is recognized as a native Hawaiian leader for role as an advocate for social justice issues, the protection of native Hawaiian rights, and the natural and cultural resources of Hawai‘i. In 1975, Vicky ʻūniki (graduated through the rituals of hula) as a kumu hula from hula master Maiki Aiu Lake. Vicky established her own hālau, Pua Ali’i ‘Ilima, (school of Hawaiian dance) in 1977. Vicky earned her BA & MA in dance ethnology from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. In addition to teaching at her own school, Vicky was a lecturer at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa and Leeward Community College for more than 35 years.
In 2001, Vicky established a non-profit organization, PA’I Foundation, to serve the needs of her Hawaiian community and those who make Hawai’i their home. Vicky serves as the executive director of PA’I. Under her leadership, PA’I is partnering with First Peoples Fund, the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, Alternate Roots and Sipp Culture to develop leadership and networking opportunities for artists through the Intercultural Leadership Institute.
Vicky is one of only 6 Native Hawaiians to receive the prestigious US Artist Award. She was awarded the US Artist Doris Duke Fellow in 2016. In 2015, Vicky received the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce ‘Ō’ō Award and the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation Native Hawaiian Fellowship, in 2014, Vicky received the Moanalua Gardens Foundation Malia Kau Award and in 2013, Vicky was the First Peoples Fund Community Spirit Awardee.
Bio: Jeffrey Kānekaiwilani Takamine graduated as kumu hula (master teacher of Hawaiian dance) through the ‘ūniki rituals of hula from Vicky Holt Takamine in 2007. The youngest of her three sons, Jeff has been chanting since the age of three. While constantly immersed in the hula lifestyle since birth, he formally began classes at the age of 14, began dancing professionally at 16 and has assisted his mother with teaching since he was 17. Recognized early on as a fine chanter, he was invited to participate in the State Foundation of Hawaiian Culture and Arts’ Folk Arts Apprenticeship program to study oli with master chanter and kumu hula Kalani Akana. While primarily under the tutelage of his mother, Kumu Vicky, he has had the opportunity to study in various settings with other Kumu Hula such as Pat Namaka Bacon, Robert Cazimero, John Kaimikaua and John Keola Lake. In addition, he has participated in numerous international cultural exchange programs through the University of Hawaii. Over the years, Jeffrey has established a reputation of creativity with a unique style of teaching and is acknowledged by members of the hula community to be a hula authority of the next generation. He has been conducting his own classes under Pua Aliʻi ‘Ilima and looks forward to starting a professional dance company in a few years.
KUANA TORRES KAHELE
Bio: Hawaiian composer, choreographer and recording artist, Kuana Torres Kahele was born in Hilo, Hawaii. Kahele has over 25 years of professional experience in Hula and Hawaiian music having been groomed as a child from renowned Hilo kumu, Johnny Lum Ho and Hālau Ka Ua Kani Lehua. He first gained notoriety on the Hawaiian and World music scene as 1/3 of the award-winning falsetto trio, Nā Palapalai. Known primarily for his original compositions for hula, Kahele completed a monumental five-year songwriting project to complete an album of new music for each of the seven Hawaiian Islands. His first volume in the series, MUSIC for the HAWAIIAN ISLANDS, honored his island birthplace, Hawaii. All six subsequent releases have charted at the top of the Billboard World Music chart. By the end of the series, Kahele has written and recorded over 100 new songs for Hawaiʻi, an unprecedented achievement in Hawaiian music.
He gained worldwide attention in June 2015, starring as both the narrator and male lead, UKU, a lovesick volcano in Disney Pixar’s hit movie, LAVA. The theme song from LAVA debuted at #1 on the Billboard Soundtrack chart and remained there for months. This brought a new, global audience to his music and lei making. His 2015 and 2017 DVDs, “Make Lei vol.1 and vol.2” took Hawaiian culture to the far reaches of the world, allowing anyone to share a tiny bit of Aloha in their part of the world. His most recent CD release, “NANI WAI’ALE” made the Billboard pop charts debuting at #27. Although Kahele is well known for his performance abilities, his true passion is teaching hula and sharing Hawaiian culture with students worldwide. He has conducted hula and Hawaiian craft workshops across the continental United States, Canada, Mexico and much of Asia, Europe and Russia.
Cultural Workshop Series
The Nānā I Ke Kumu cultural workshop series features Native Hawaiian master artists and cultural practitioners leading interactive workshops in areas including:
~ Hula Kiʻi (Hula Puppetry)
~ Hula (Hawaiian Dance)
~ Moʻolelo (Hawaiian Storytelling)
~ Mele Hei (Hawaiian String Stories)
~ Haku Mele (Hawaiian Song Composition)
~ ʻUpena (Hawaiian Net Making)
~ ʻOhe Kāpala (Hawaiian Bamboo Stamping)
~ Nā Hana Hulu (Hawaiian Feather-work)
~ Hoʻokūkū Kapa (Hawaiian Bark Cloth)