Chanter/Kumu Hula/ Choreographer
Kauila Kawelo Barber was born and raised on the island of O’ahu, Hawai’I into a family of celestial ocean navigators and hula dancers. Kauila’s Father was Hawaiian, Tahitian, Scotts, born at Lahaina, Maui. His Mother was of pure Hawaiian ancestry born at Nanakuli, O’ahu, Hawai’i.
For Starving Artist Theatre Company , on the production of The Gathering Place, Kauila has provided invaluable guidance and practical support. He serves as the Kumu Hula on the show.
“Hawaiians had no written language. Our history and language was passed down orally and through the art of Hula, the poetic dance of the indigenous people of Hawai‘i. Hawaiians were masters at memorization. Memorization is a huge part of my life. I am Kumu Hula, or Master Hula Teacher at Halau Kauilanuimakehaikalani. Halau is a hula school. I started my Hula journey at the age of 13 years with Hoakalei Kamau’u & Edith Kawelohea McKinzie, studying Hula Kahiko, the ancient style of dance. “
By the time Kauila was 14 he was dancing Hula in a Waikiki show and teaching simple techniques of Hula to friends, The following year he entered Lahainaluna School, a famous boarding school founded by missionaries in 1831 and began teaching Hula to the members of their Hawaiiana Club. He taught there for 2 years and graduated with the prestigious David Malo Award for excellence in perpetuating Hawaiian language, culture and Hula.
Coming from a family of accomplished Hula dancers and teachers carried high expectation and responsibilities. Kauila’s Mother brought him to Hula, she was a Hula dancer and chanter and graduate as a “Ho’opa’a” a memorizer. If a person is serious about being a Master dancer, chanter or finally a Kumu, you’d take the path of the ‘Uniki. The ‘Uniki is the sacred protocol of graduation ceremony and involves years of rigorous training and devotion to everything Hula. It took me Kauila 38 years to earn his Kumu status.
This summer Kauila is taking two of his students into competition at the George Na’ope Hula Festival in Sacramento, California. The last Hula competition he entered 12 years ago, his students swept the festival in every category and brought home the Over All Winners trophy as well as “The ‘Olelo Award” for excellence in Hawaiian language.
Kauila is currently working for the television production, HAWAII 5-0 as a Hawaiian Language and Protocol Tech Advisor.