The Aloha Legacy
The essential elements of hula are music, dance, the Hawaiian language and lineage – a respect for received traditions and an awareness of one's own origins. For nearly four decades, Kumu Hula Aloha Dalire, has set the highest standards in each area through her own performances and those of her halau, Keolalaulani Halau 'Olapa O Laka, founded by her mother on O’ahu in 1963.
Aloha Dalire's genealogy has its origins on Raiatea, the island held sacred by the Polynesian voyagers who settled in Hawaii. Her immediate ancestors include six generations of Kumu Hula, beginning with Tutu Keola. Next in the lineage were Kihei Pekelo Akona and Naku'ea Pekelo Akona, both of whom were chanters in the court of King David Kalakaua, the Merrie Monarch who restored hula to the Hawaiian people. Kahanu Pa'oa and Malia Kea McCabe are the fourth and fifth generation followed by Mary Keolalaulani McCabe Wong and then Aloha Dalire. Aloha Dalire's mother, Mary Keolalaulani McCabe Wong and Uncle George Nā'ope, one of the founding fathers of the prestigious Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, trained her in hula 'auana, the modern form. Aloha Dalire received her education in the ancient form of hula, kahiko from her hanai family member, Aunty Emma Defries, and was inspired in her study of traditional chants by Elsie Ross-Lane, executive director of the Aloha Week festival.
She began teaching for her mother at the age of 15 and in 1971 was honored as the first Miss Aloha Hula – the top female soloist in the Merrie Monarch competition. Aloha Dalire's three daughters have since held the title, while first place titles in many hula competitions have been won by her Kane and Wahine haumana.
Her students of all ages - including those from the original Kane'ohe halau and the branches founded in Japan (1988), California (1998), and Hilo (2010) have also taken home many awards from other major hula competitions, including the World Invitational E Ho'i Mai, Hula 'Oni E, Kamehameha Day Hula and Chant Competition, Queen Lili'uokalani Keiki Hula, the Polynesian Cultural Center's Moanikeala Hula Festival, and Ia 'Oe E Ka Lā in California, the premier U.S. Mainland competition. Judges of these events have also repeatedly recognized Aloha Dalire's musicians and her emphasis on the Hawaiian language with the highest accolades.
A graduate of Castle High School in Kane'ohe, Aloha Dalire has worked as a performer with Hawaii's most popular musicians at hotels and other venues. Her dancers have followed in her footsteps by being invited to perform at festivals, special events, and commercial establishments. She recently co-founded Waolani Entertainment LLC, with Willy Leong and Mario Martins, to produce Hawaiian and Polynesian shows and concerts in Las Vegas, Japan, and Hawaii.
Aloha Dalire's choreography may be seen on video and DVD in the annual Merrie Monarch recordings, as well as on “Hula: The First 30 Years of the Merrie Monarch Festival,” for which she was interviewed, and “ Hawaii: Songs of Aloha,” a concert broadcast by PBS in 2000. Her recording of “Christmas Island Medley” is included on the 2004 CD, “Hawaiian Style Christmas Vol. I.” At the forefront of the Hawaiian cultural renaissance, she was also profiled in “Nana I Na Loea Hula: Look to the Hula Resources,” published in 1984.