THE LEHUA / The first flower to bloom after a lava flow, the lehua flower has been seen as a symbol of strength in Hawaiian culture since ancient times. Famous in songs and myths, the storytellers of old would never fail to attach their descriptions of beauty to the vibrant red lehua blossoms. In chants composed for the hula dance, the lehua is used figuratively to describe a warrior, beloved friend, relative, sweetheart, or expert.
Independent filmmaker, educator, and hula dancer, Lisette Marie Flanary creates films that celebrate a modern renaissance of the hula dance and Hawaiian culture. She is the writer, producer and director of Lehua Films and her award-winning documentaries, AMERICAN ALOHA: HULA BEYOND HAWAIʻI, NĀ KAMALEI: THE MEN OF HULA, and ONE VOICE have broadcast nationally on public television and shown in film festivals around the world. Her latest film, TOKYO HULA, the final film in a trilogy of hula documentaries exploring the explosive popularity of hula in Japan, premiered at the Hawaiʻi International Film Festival in November 2019. She is currently an Associate Professor at the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is one of the co-directors of Good Pitch Local Hawaiʻi.
TOKYO HULA I NA KAMALEI I AMERICAN ALOHA
Lisette is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in Film and Television Production and received her MFA in Creative Writing at the New School University. Having lived in New York City for over twenty years, Lisette joined the faculty of the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 2011.
Lisette is an Associate Professor of Native/Indigenous Creative Media at ACM Mānoa who teaches courses in screenwriting, producing, critical studies, and indigenous filmmaking. In 2016, she received the Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest university-wide teaching award recognizing faculty who have made significant contributions in teaching and student learning through an extraordinary level of subject mastery and scholarship, teaching effectiveness, and creativity and personal character.
Lisette is a student of Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakāne and his hālau, Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu based in San Francisco, California. Known as a creative force in the hula world for his innovative choreography, his work is grounded in the traditions and fundamentals of hula. While he is dedicated to keeping traditional dances intact as they have been passed on for generations, he has also developed his own unique style of hula called hula mua that uses modern music to provide new dimensions to the poetry of hula. Having studied with some of Hawaiʻi’s most recognized hula masters, including John Keola Lake and Robert Cazimero, Kumu Makuakāne achieved the recognized status of kumu hula (hula master) after completing his intensive traditional studies with hula master Mae Kamāmalu Klein in 2000. He has received numerous awards for his choreography and was recently awarded the 2018 Artistic Legacy Award from the San Francisco Arts Commission.
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