Kawika Keikiali`i Alfiche
Hula (Hawaiian Cultural Arts)
“The great thing about our traditions is it’s not just a dance and movement. It comes with great kuleana (responsibility). It is very important to our cultural community, for it is the voice of our culture.”
– Kawika Keikiali`i Alfiche
Hula is a Hawaiian dance form accompanied by oli (chant), mele (traditional song), and pa`ahana (musical instruments and implements). Its many styles have been divided into two main categories. Kahiko (ancient hula), as performed before Western encounters with Hawai`i, is accompanied by traditional drums and/or implements. `Auana, which evolved under Western influence in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, is accompanied by song and musical instruments such as guitar, `ukulele, and bass.
Hawaiian music and hula have always been prevalent in Kawika Keikiali`i Alfiche‘s life. Since he was a teenager, he has learned from three kumu hula (teachers of hula). He is one of six students who completed the traditional graduating process `uniki under the instruction of Kumu Hula Rae Kahikilaulani Fonseca of Hilo, Hawai`i, an `uniki of Master Kumu George Naope. Kawika also trained with Tiare Maka Olanolan of Hanalei, Hawai`i, and Aunty Harriett Keahilihau-Spalding of Keaukaha, Hawai`i. In 1994, Kawika started his own Hālau hula (school).
Kawika Keikiali`i Alfiche’s students from around the world dance to one of his compositions, 2019.
During this apprenticeship, Kawika will guide Anjal Pong in making and learning four types of hula: Puniu (coconut knee drum), `Uli`uli (featherless gourd rattle), `Ulili (triple gourd top), and Lapaiki (small skinned drum). The pair will also study the styles of oli (chant) which accompany these implements, along with their kaona (layered meanings/symbolisms).
In 2008, Kawika guided Eileen Maka Aniciete through an in-depth study of several hula, including Puniu (coconut knee drum), `Uli`uli (featherless gourd rattle), and the rare `Ulili (triple gourd top) and Lapaiki (small skinned drum). They also focused on the accompanying oli and mele for each, exploring their layered meanings.