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More on Ilima Hula Studio

  Ilima Hula Studio was founded about 1956-1957, by my mother Louise Kahilio’kalani Kaleiki and her friend Dottie Ortiz on the lanai downstairs of her families home in Papakolea. My mother was also a renowned musician and had quite a remarkable voice, and recording career. She recorded with several artists such as Aunty Emma Kamaka, Sonny Chillingsworth, Vicky I’I Rodriguez, Pauline Kekahuna, those are just to name a few. Aunty Dottie played with my mother Louise for years (not sure exactly how many), and went on to pursue her own successful career as well.

    By the early 1960’s Louise was asked to teach about 8-12 students of Uncle George Na’opes, as he traveled the world to teach Hula. Louise learned her Hula from Uncle Henry Mo’ikeha O’ Tahiti Pa, Uncle George Na’ope, and a few others. That was the birthing of our very unique style of Hula.

    As time went on Ilima Hula Studio grew and eventually my Aunty Luka was asked to help with the classes, (Luka was Louise’s younger sister). Aunty Luka was studying to be an opera singer, and gave it all up to help her sister Louise. In 1962 Aunty Luka was teaching full time at the studio, which at the time was located on King Street (where the Kalihi Post Office now stands). In those early years not too many people were teaching all the Polynesian dances, so Louise and Luka set out to learn from the best they could find in each field. Over the years these are the teachers:

Tahitian-(Drumming & Dance):

Teitu Kame’enui & Aunty Carol

Prince Tulifano

Tony Keli’ipio

Joe Lima

Tunui Tully

Maori-(hand dances, poi balls, sticks and much more):

Millie & Kingi Tengaio

Tommy Taorima

And a few groups from New Zealand


Various people

Taoaliga (Princess Dance) O’Brien Eselu

Fire Knife dance:

Kalani Miller

John “Ciosi” Dalire

(If I have forgotten anyone please forgive me.)

(If I have forgotten anyone please forgive me.)

    In 1978, my mother Louise went home to be with our Lord Jesus and Aunty Luka stepped up graciously. In 1983, Aunty Luka went home to be with our Lord Jesus, and that is when I, Lani was placed with sole ownership of Ilima Hula Studio. Following such great women was a great challenging task. I had stepped away from Hula for many years, but have once again found the love of Hula and dance that my mother and aunty instilled in me all the years ago. Since 1983 I have been teaching Hula off and on, and a few years ago, I have been strongly encouraged by Uncle George Na’ope, Aunty Aloha Dalire, Frank Kawaikapuokalani K, Hewitt, Buzzy Histo (many years), Willie “Va’a” Leong and many others, too start teaching the old Hula style. Ilima style is alive once again, and as long as I have breath I am determined to teach as many students that God will bring to me.

    The blessings of Gods love has revived this rebirth, and I pray that all of you will enjoy and love Hula, Tahitian, Knife, and Drumming as much as I will teaching each and every one of you. I pray that you will continue to grow with me as I charter through the road of life.


Photos from Ilima Hula Studio