Although born and raised in Ohio, Momi began her hula training in 1977 with Māpuana deSilva, Hālau Mōhala ʻIlima, in Kailua, Kaʻōhao, Hawaiʻi. Hula became, and remains, her passion. During the next five years of intensive training, she learned to be a dancer, and eventually became a chanter and an alakaʻi (leader). This was the time of the 2nd Renaissance of Hawaiian culture. It was an exciting time of re-discovery and renewal of all things Hawaiian throughout the island chain. She began her hālau (school of hula) in 1983 on the Big Island of Hawai’i. That was the year Māpuana gave her the blessing to teach. During these years of immersion in all things Hawaiian she met and became friends with many kumu, dancers, chanters and writers. Those people are the na’au of Hawaiian culture and teaching today. Her passion continues to pass along the hula knowledge that was so freely shared during those years. She recently spent an additional 8.5 years studying again with her kumu in Hawai’i. Hula is the heartbeat and the heart of the Hawaiian people; in it you will find the history and the legends of an enlightened culture.
“Without a written language, it was hula that kept the history of the Hawaiian people. It told their stories. It still does.” –Maiki Aiu Lake.
In their performances for private parties, elder care facilities, festivals and luʻaus, Momi and her students continue to tell the stories. It is Momi’s passion and respect for hula that keeps her teaching as she was taught by her kumu and many others. Her passion remains to release the stories, with knowledge, with care and with aloha and joy at every possible opportunity.
“When things are held too tightly, the life can be squeezed out of them. When they are shared, they spread out like a life-bearing river across flat plains.” – Maiki Aiu Lake