Originally, from the Pacific island of Guam, Jacinta Napuaonaonaokahala San Nicolas Ma'ae first started dancing as soon as she could walk! She danced with halau in California, Guam, and Texas. She first started dancing professionally in 2007 based in Killeen, TX. Seeking more opportunity, she created her group in San Antonio with her husband, eventually to be born as Hiti O Te Mahana.
In 2010, Napua was blessed with the opportunity to compete in Honolulu at the prestigious King Kamehameha Hula Competition under the direction of Kumu Keli'i Chang of Ka Pa Hula 'Umoumou to represent Texas. She then received her 'uniki (blessings to teach hula) by Kumu Keli'i, with her hula lineage including his parents, Elizabeth Moana'ala and Frank Chang Jr, George Holokai, and Keaka Kanahele. As part of his hula genealogy, it is her duty to carry on his mana and blessings and share the Polynesian culture with others.
In 2011, she took her own halau, Hula Halau Na Pua I Ka Ua Kilihune, to their first competition, Mana I Ka Hula in Houston, TX, where they received several awards.
In 2015, she was again invited to compete under Na Kumu Hula Nani and Mei Ling Chang (whom are Kumu Keli'i's sisters) with Halau Ka Pa Hula Na Pua O Kamali'i at the esteemed E Hula Mau Competition in Long Beach, CA.
Napua has taken numerous workshops with several Kumu Hula over the years, including Keali'i Ceballos and Anne Blankenship, however, one of her biggest influences in hula (besides her own Kumu), is Mahaelani Mika Hirao-Solem, the winner of Miss Aloha Hula 2010. She was able to work closely with and learn personally from her often throughout her hula career.
'ORI TAHITI CAREER
In 2009, she met Tiana and Mevina Liufau, who were her biggest influences in her style. In 2010, she took her first workshop with Tiana and started learning from her consistently for many years.
In 2011, she met Keali'i Bush, Ra'atira Pupu 'Ori and Master Drummer of Te Iritatai Ora, which was a turning point in her group's direction, as he shared his mana'o openly and encouraged her group to go all-live with music and drumming.
In 2019, she led her pupu 'ori to competition in Orlando at Ho'ike Hawai'i and Heiva Ma'ohi, where they won several awards.
Napua has taken workshops with 'Orometua around the world, both in person and online. She trained and spent personal time with Moena Maiotui, who is respectively one of the best 'Ori Tahiti dancers in the world. She recently participated in 'Amui Tatou, ran by Tehani Robinson, and had the chance to learn from several different ra'atira, all whom are practitioners of Tahitian culture.
Today, she continues her training with masters of Polynesian dance in order to strengthen her skills and increase her knowledge. Napua, along with her husband Gabe, open up their teachings to anyone with the willingness to learn the Polynesian culture.
Gabe Tualua Ma'ae is the siva afi (fire dance) instructor, lead drummer, and co-owner of the pupu 'ori and dance company. Being of Samoan descent, he grew up immersed in his Polynesian culture, with both of his parents being from Western and American Samoa. He learned his roots in his family church, Samoa I Texas, where they imbedded fa'a Samoa. He also joined his church choir where he was taught Pese Samoa, where music is a big part of Samoan culture.
He studied Tahitian drumming in his latter years, picking it up through his pure passion and respect of Ma'ohi culture. He took workshops under the direction of Tiana Liufau of Nonosina, and Tahiti-born master drummer, Uncle Tuko Mapuhi Tekurio.
To expand his knowledge in Siva Samoa, he also was blessed to learn from Albert Tupuola and Tatau Manaia of Auckland, New Zealand.
To this day, Gabe is immersed in Polynesian culture and is truly passionate about sharing his heritage and knowledge with others.
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