Aloha Studio’s roots date back to 1915 when Kumu Catherine’s great-grandfather, Henry Kailimai, performed with the Royal Hawaiian Band at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. He was well-known for composing many popular hapa-haole (half English) songs, the most famous being “On the Beach at Waikīkī”. Since then, the preservation of Hawaiian music and dance has been an integral part of the family, and Kumu Catherine has dedicated much of her life to that legacy.
Though she has taught hula for much longer, Kumu Catherine became a Kumu Hula (hula teacher) after a three-year intensive studying under revered Kumu Hula and Hawaiian composer Lehua Kawaikapuokalani Hewett and completing the ‘Ailolo and ‘Ūniki (graduation) ceremonies in May 2012. Prior to that, she studied for several years under Kumu Esther Correa.
For Tahitian dance, Kumu Catherine worked with Auntie Roiti Sylva to enrich her Pupu ‘Ori (dance group) programs, while Uncle Karl built his drumming repertoire through workshops with top drummers including Iriti, the Ra‘atira (conductor) of Heikura Nui in Tahiti. Recently, they worked with Hirohiti Tematahotoa, renowned director and choreographer of the award-winning Tahitian dance group Hanatika, Nunaa E Hau, and director of Ecole de Danse de Tahitienn e Heiva in Pape‘ete, Tahiti.
Today, Kumu Catherine brings her rich history and years of experience to her classes at Aloha Studio. Teaching children, teens, and adults about the Polynesian performing arts is her life’s mission.