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Käwika Hiwahiwa Alfiche and Hälau Aloha Pumehana o Polynesia collaborating with Pacific Islanders’ Cultural Association

Award: $35,000 Traditional Arts Grant awarded in June 2003

Premiere of Nä Ali’i: June 2004 in San Francisco

Photo by: [email protected]

Käwika Hiwahiwa Alfiche (Käwika Alfiche), founder and artistic director of Halau Aloha Pumehana o Polynesia, collaborated with Pacific Islanders’ Cultural Association to create Nä Ali’i, a new performance work about four specific members of Hawaiian royalty (ali’i) and their effect on the culture’s history. Members of the ali’i class were believed to be direct descendants of the gods and treated as such. Hawaiians composed many mele (songs) and hula (dances) to capture the greatness of their ali’i.

Alfiche’s piece began with Kamehameha the Great, who first united the island nation, and progressed to Queen Lili’uokalani, the last reigning monarch. Stories were told through traditional hula, mele hula and mele oli (dance, songs and chants), media clips, and an historical narrative. The artists also exhibited representative artifacts at the production. The Pacific Islanders’ Cultural Association collaborated with Käwika Alfiche and company members on research, collecting the art and artifacts, and managing details of concert production.

Hälau Aloha Pumehana o Polynesia (now Halau ‘o Keikiali’i) is a traditional, non-competing hälau hula (dance group) committed to perpetuating the Hawaiian culture. The group’s primary performance focus is on hula kahiko (ancient style of dance). Its founder and artistic director, Käwika Alfiche, studied with some of Hawai‘i’s great traditional practitioners. Pacific Islanders Cultural Association’s (PICA’s) goals are to educate and inform the general public, as well as members of the community who are separated from the islands, about their cultural origins. Among other activities, PICA has produced the Aloha Festival annually since 1996 in San Francisco.