My name is Leimomi I-Maldonado, better known as Aunty Lei.
My passion for the hula was instilled in me at the young age of six by my late Kumu Hula, Aunty Maiki Aiu Lake.
After 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 Kimo Alama Keaulana, a young man whose knowledge is overwhelming. 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 of Uncle John’s, has been working with our haumana in oli, and we are enjoying his gentle spirit.
It was Mrs. Josephine Flanders, the Dance Director at Punahou School, who gave me a beginning in teaching the art form of Polynesian dance in the late 1960s. After seven years there, I decided to open my own hula school and began classes from a home in Kahala.
“House of I” was the name selected by Aunty Maiki Aiu Lake in the late 70s.
I later helped form “Squire Production,” a professional entertainment company. I then added the “Ladies from the House of I,” a hula school that was separate from the 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 producing and directing shows at the Monarch Room and the Kahala Hilton showrooms.
I have been very blessed. A humble and loving mahalo to my family, friends and teachers who have supported me through my journey of the Hula.
Today, I greet my students with this message: “May your love of Hawai‘i grow through the Art of the Hula.”