Remembering Hula Legend Iolani Luahine

Photograph by Francis Haar, 1961

Considered the “high priestess” of hula, she became the most esteemed hula dancer in the state of Hawai‘i. The legendary Iolani Luahine (1915-1978) was instrumental in perpetuating the traditional hula kahiko, the ancient style of dance passed on through generations of native Hawaiians. Born in Kona, she learned the art of hula from her aunt Keahi, who was one of the royal dancers in the courts of King Kalakaua and Queen Lili‘uokalani.

When Iolani danced and chanted, she conveyed a mystical connection to the spiritual world. There are countless stories about her psychic powers in which she’d ask the wind to stop, the rain to cease and animals to do her bidding. Named a “Living Treasure” in 1972, she was invited on three occasions to perform at the National Folk Festival at Wolf Trap in Virginia. After she passed away in 1978, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin called her “easily one of Hawaii’s greatest dancers, if not the greatest.”

To honor this great artist, the annual Iolani Luahine Hula Festival will take place this January 26 – 28 at Keauhou Beach Resort. Attracting those who knew her and those who are inspired by her, the event will feature hula workshops and presentations, musical entertainment and a visit to Iolani’s birthplace in Napo‘opo‘o Village at Kealakekua Bay.

As you plan your 2012 romantic Hawaiian vacation, your Holualoa Inn ohana invite you to enjoy our Kona bed and breakfast, savor delicious foods grown on the property, and experience the many activities and adventures available here on the Big Island. You may even connect with the ancient spirits that inspired Iolani Luahine in her enchanted song and dance.

Innkeeper Holualoa Inn