Lōpaka Igarta-De Vera is a Kumu Hula (hula master) and co-director at the award-winning Hālau Nā Mamo O Pu‘uanahulu (HNMOP) located in Hawai‘i and Japan. Though he is best known for hula, his passion began in music at an early age. While singing in the Honolulu Boy Choir, he met a choir instructor and his first Kumu Hula, who sparked his interest in hula. Enchanted, Lōpaka joined his first hālau at eight years old. It was then that “dancing took over,” he says.
The rest was history. He dedicated himself to arts and culture at the core of his identity. Eventually, he took on leadership roles in the hālau where he realized his gift in teaching. “This is what I am meant to be,” he says. “As a Kumu Hula, I get to represent our people….It is humbling and such an honor.”
Today, Lōpaka proudly shares his passion for hula with his students. “I want to instill in [the youth] the importance of working hard and striving for goals through this art we call hula for the future of our people, culture and for future Kumu Hula.” He encourages everyone to dance from the heart as they connect with one another: “If we breathe our own breath into our dance, our haumāna, our hālau, we become unique as Poʻe Hula.”