If you are a hula dancer you know who Kim Taylor Reece is. The renowned photographer is one of the first to capture the movement of hula kahiko. Talk story host McKenna Maduli was invited to visit the artist at his North Shore gallery for a very special photo shoot.
"It's a perfect location…. the Gallery," said Reece. "It's amazing here with the whales in the living room. The beach right there and the mountains in the back. Sacred Falls in the back. It's a great place to live."
Reece started his career in the late 70's." I was over at ‘Iolani Palace and Frank Hewett came out with his dancers," said Reece. "Before that everybody was dancing ‘auana and he came out and did a hula kahiko and I still get chicken skin just thinking about it. It was just such an amazing dance and I thought this is what I am looking for. I just fell in love with it. It's been over 40 years."
Reece did extensive research during those years. "When I first started working with hula kahiko I studied in The Bishop Museum. There's a section of the museum called the Ray Jerome Baker collection and he did some of the first photographs in Hawaii. And I actually went back to some of the drawings that Captain Cook's crew were painting or drawing of the dancers. I went back and studied the earlier costuming." I would sit through the (halau) practices and watch what they were doing. And I would hang out with the halau for two of three years and then I'd go on to another halau and what I found was each kumu hula, each teacher had their own style. They had their own little family. I worked with about six or eight kumu hula over the years. "
Reece is proud to have taken Hawaii's ancient kahiko and brought it to places all over the world and says it was one photo that launched it all. "Loxley was one of my first," said Raid. "' I photographed her on Fort Street Mall. She was dancing for Hawaiian Airlines and she had leather sandals on and I go 'I can't use this.' And then years later I photographed her and she became one of my first images that became really popular all over the world. "
For more information: kimtaylorreece.com, @kimtaylorreece