Pohai Souza

2020 Honoree

Halau Hula Kamamolikolehua

Pohai’s study and love for the hula began at the age of four, when she danced her first steps under the instruction of George Holokai and his mother, Alice Holokai. At eight, she began dancing for her aunt, Maiki Aiu, at her Ke`eaumoku Street halau until her college years. After raising her family, she later completed her studies, graduating as Kumu hula in 1991 from Mae Kamamalu Klein in the Papa Maile Kaluhea class.

Pohai perpetuates the hula legacy and style of Aunty Maiki and Kamamalu Klein at her Kaka`ako school, Halau Hula Kamamolikolehua. It is a non-competitive halau that focuses on the educational aspects of hula through the dance, research and personal experience. As Pohai explains, “If you come from our hula genealogy, you know the quotation, ‘Hula is life.’ Our elders taught us that hula is not just a dance. The words of the mele were written by people to express their emotions. They teach us everything we need to know about life, relationships, natural history, philosophy, physiology, and the emotional well-being of mind, spirit and body. It is our job as a dancer to convey these emotions to the best of our ability.”

Kumu Pohai has been a guest speaker and teacher at several hula workshops in Hawaii, Japan and across the continental United States. She has judged at the World Hula Competition for the past 5 years. Pohai also teaches Hawaiian Chant and Dance at Sacred Hearts Academy, a local all girl Catholic School.