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Paula J. Bishop

Hawaiian hula school in Hilo, Hawaii. Founded in 1953 by Edith Kanaka’ole, the school has been instrumental in the preservation and dissemination of hula and chant practices associated with Pele, the goddess of fire. Knowledge about these traditions was passed down to Kanaka’ole through matrilineal descent for at least seven generations, and she in turn instructed her own daughters, Pualani Kanaka’ole Kanahele and Nalani Kanaka’ole, who inherited the school in 1979 upon their mother’s death.

The style of hula taught and performed by the school, ’aiha’a, is characterized by a bent-knee posture and vigorous movements, a reflection of the energy and power of the volcano goddess. In addition to learning hula, dancers at the school become fully immersed in the culture of Hawaii and hula. They learn the Hawaiian language and how to play the ipu (gourd) and pahu (sharkskin drum), and create their own costumes and props using the traditional materials and practices....