The hula world has lost another legend. Thousands of students of Hula Alama Studio are mourning the passing of Auntie Leilani Alama this past Friday after a 5-month battle with stomach cancer.
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The 88-year-old kumu started teaching at the age of 15. Although she never believed that hula should be part of a competition, she and sister Puanani were honored at last year's Merrie Monarch Festival.
At her 80th birthday in Sept. 2005, former students came from the mainland and Japan for a surprise celebration.
That's when she told KITV how hula impacted her life. "When it comes to hula...hula is everything for me." Auntie Leilani said. "(It's) My life. My love of God."
Friends say she kept her regular schedule until fairly recently: going to the studio to see her students and meeting with friends to sing and reminisce.
Services for Auntie Lei are planned for next month at Hawaiian Memorial Park.