Kumu Hula

 

My name is Leimomi I-Maldonado, better known as Aunty Lei.

My passion for the hula was instilled in me at a young age of 6 by my late Kumu Hula, Aunty Maiki Aiu Lake. With Aunty Maiki’s passing, I had the opportunity to study and Uniki (graduate) as Kuma Hula with her cousin, Aunty Lani Kekauilani Kalama from Kailua.

I have been fortunate to study with a young man who’s knowledge is overwhelming and that is Kimo Alama Keaulana. I continue to attend his hula workshops whenever I am able. Uncle John Keola Lake has always supported our halau in oli and dance we will miss him. Kumu Kalama, a student Uncle John, has been working with our haumana in oli and we are enjoying his gentle spirit.

My mentor has been my brother Milton I. He’s been there for my every turn, stumble & fall. To these wonderful people, I am forever grateful.

It was Mrs. Josephine Flanders (photo on right), the Dance Director at Punahou School, who gave me a beginning in teaching the art form of Polynesian dance in the late 60’s at Punahou School. After seven years there, I decided to open my own hula school and began classes from my brother’s home in Kahala.

“House of I” was the name selected for my brother Milton I by Aunty Maiki Aiu Lake when he began his halau in the late 70’s. His men were called “Squires from the House of I”.

I later joined my brother and we formed “Squire Production”, a professional entertainment company, and added the “Ladies from the House of I”. The hula school was separate from our production company. We were very successful in producing the NFL Pro Bowl half time shows for eight years. We also did many convention shows in Honolulu, as well as produced and directed shows at the Monarch Room and the Kahala Hilton showrooms.

We have been very blessed. A humble and loving mahalo to our family, friends and teachers who have supported us through our journey of the Hula.

Today, I greet my students with a message that reads: “May your love of Hawai‘i grow through the Art of the Hula”.