Kalikopuanoheaokalani Aiu

Kanaka ʻŌiwi & Of many Islands and Seas

GRANTEE: Kalikopuanoheaokalani Aiu
NATIVE HERITAGE: Kanaka ʻŌiwi & Of many Islands and Seas
LOCATION: Honolulu, Hawaiʻi
AWARD: 2023 LIFT– Early Career Support for Native Artists 
DISCIPLINE: Dance/Choreography
SOCIAL MEDIA: Instagram & YouTube

Kalikopuanoheaokalani Aiu is a māhū/bakla dancer, choreographer, writer, multi-media artist, and community organizer. They were raised on Turtle Island and currently reside on the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu. Aiu graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) in 2021 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. Shortly after graduating, they co-founded and previously led Ka Hui Hoʻokino Hālāwai (KHHH), a māhū-centered arts and events hui that hosted dance events and offered presentations on the importance of building Indigenous queer community spaces. They are currently surfacing a movement(s)-based, MVPFAFF and third-gender Indigenous collective, Nā Maka ʻEkolu, dedicated to the lifelong community journey to protect and restore the land and waters.

A storyteller through dance and multi-media, their work engages concepts of desire, gender, ancestral memory, community care, ability, ʻāina-based practices and land protection, kaona, embodiment, wai, spirituality, and navigating sensation as valuable information. Aiu’s work has returned him to physical land protection and intentional art-making for and about land and its dialogue with the body. In recent years, Aiu danced in Hawaiʻi, ʻāina-based short films, and participated in community-building for LGBTQIA, MVPFAFF, and queer folks in Hawaiʻi with the Hawaiʻi LGBT Legacy Foundation’s Māhūi. Additionally, they continue to co-host Māhū Mix social dance events and co-lead ceremonies and workshops for māhū in Hawaiʻi.

A growing representation of BIPOC in media is vital as we have grown up with our faces and bodies missing from the media while we are literally missing due to ongoing colonial harm still present in our ancestral lands. It is nothing short of life-saving when māhū and bakla have access to art and media that reflect our bodies and are marked like our ancestors.”

– Kalikopuanoheaokalani Aiu (Kanaka ʻŌiwi & Of many Islands and Seas)


Aiu’s LIFT Project will be a collaborative multimedia performance produced by five artists/practitioners. The work includes a choreographed dance piece that will center Native Hawaiian and Filipino Indigenous methodologies and concepts. During the creative process, Aiu will receive tatak (tattoo) which will be the impetus for the choreographed and improvised dance performance as well as the video work. The work deeply connects body to land and to ancestral lineage and offers greater visibility and representation of māhū/bakla in Hawai’i. The piece will be performed at two venues in Hawai’i to live audiences.

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