Grantee:  Kaui Kanaka’ole
Native Citizenship:  Native Hawaiian
Location:  Hana, Hawaii
Award:  2015 Native Hawaiian Artist Fellowship
Discipline:  Dance
Web Site:

Kaui Kanaka’ole (Native Hawaiian) will undertake mentorship as part of her journey to become a kumu hula or master of the dance form.

Kaui Kanaka’ole is an ‘Olapa, or expert dancer in the Hālau o Kekuhi, Native Hawaiian dance company, and an instructor of hula. She leads 10-week community workshops in chant, dance, lei and performance regalia making and in 2014, was teaching over 43 students of all ages. Her choreographic style is energetic and she has noticed the positive impact the art form has on the overall health of her community.

“Hula carries forward the ancient stories, traditions and dances of our ancestors. It is the kaula or strong tie that binds us to the past, present and future. As such, hula is foundational to our identity and dignity as a people,” said Kanaka’ole, who participates in a regional effort to improve community health. “Hula is also running the three laps I ask students to do before practice to build up cardio strength and to increase stamina for the physically demanding choreography.”

Over the years, she has shared what she has learned of integrating Native Hawaiian arts into curriculum, presenting at six workshops in recent years. She earned a bachelor of arts in English and a teaching certificate from the University of Hawaii. She teaches Native Hawaiian arts and English in Hana and has been awarded a sponsorship by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to write a book on choreographic theories and the practices of kumu hula Nalani Kanaka’ole.

Support from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation will allow the dancer to undertake mentorship as part of her journey to become a kumu hula or master of the dance form. “I will be mentored by my Aunt Nalani Kanaka’ole in hula. Her assignments test my ability to train dancers and my choreographic skill,” said Kanaka’ole. “This mentorship will inform the book that I will publish about the native Hawaiian creative process and allow me to articulate my own creative process in terms of choreography, costuming, ritual and chanting.”