Meet Kaleo Wheeler
Kaleonahenaheonalani (Kaleo) Wheeler
Hula instructor and Practitioner of the Halau Hula Pu'uwai O Aloha, a non-traditional school of Hawaiian Hula
A Hawaiian Storyteller and Performance Artist
Hawaiian Cultural Consultant and Instructor through the Hawaiian Culture Awareness Education Program
An Artist-in-Resident through the SC Arts Commission
An Ordained Spiritual Minister and Director of the Heart of Aloha Healing Ministry
An Officiate for Wedding Ceremonies and Celebrations of Life
A Spiritual Guide and Consultant to Women
A Musical Storyteller and Recording Artist, with her solo CD, Ulana, the Way of the Heart
A Contributing Author of the book, A Complete Guide to Acupressure
Kaleo's passion in working with women comes from her own personal life experiences and wanting to help women to reach their full potential in life. Her journey in her own personal healing, starting from trauma early in her life that took her to study and explore several different indigenous cultures, as well as several modern body/mind integration techniques. They include being a Jin Shin Do Bodymind Acupressure authorized senior teacher and certified acupressurist since 1988, a certified therapeutic music practitioner since 2005, and a voice teacher and specialist since the early 80’s. She has been an ordained spiritual minister since 1990,and she also apprenticed to a Native American Shaman, Oh Shinnah Fast Wolf, for 14 years. She has conducted and officiated at ceremonies and celebrations of life since the late 80's; especially in helping women through ceremony, to connect to their Divine Feminine.
When she was introduced to the ancient Hawaiian culture in the late 80's, she knew she had come home". Since then, she has been fortunate and blessed to have lived and studied with Hawaiian Master Teachers, Kumu Hula and Kahunas, both in Hawai'i and on the Mainland. In learning how to live the Hawaiian Way of the Heart, she lived and studied Hawaiian Spirituality through Living the Aloha Spirit with Kahiliopua Wong Bretlinger in the early 90’s. Auntie Pua introduced to her to the teachings of Aunty Pilahi Paki, an elder who brought back the deeper more esoteric meaning of Aloha in the 1950's, in how it is about expressing love in each moment and wishing each other the very best in life. Auntie Pilahi's vision was in seeing a Lei of Aloha being shared around the world to bring transformation and peace. This message of Aloha touched Kaleo's heart, and it has become the foundation of everything she does. Aunty Pua also gifted her with her Hawaiian name; and to honor this gift, she took "Kaleo" on as her legal first name in 2005. Kaleo also studied Huna with Serge Kahili King in the late 80’s and 90's and Huna Mua with Phil Young in the late 90's. She has been offering workshops and classes in these teachings since the mid 90’s.
Kaleo was fortunate to have also learned the indigenous dance and ancient form of storytelling unique to the Hawaiian Islands, their traditional Hula. Hula helped her to finally heal and restore her body from the traumatic experiences she had, starting in her early childhood. As a result of these experiences, Kaleo had been barely able to dance in any way with how contracted and tight her body had become, even though she had loved to dance as a young child. Through Hula and this beautiful culture, her body began to find that freedom and joy of movement again, and why she is now so passionate in wanting to share it with other women. Kaleo began taking workshops and studied Hula with several different Kumu Hula, starting in the late 80’s. They include Keith Awai, Uncle George Na’ope, Olana ‘Ai, Ellen Gay Dela Rosa and Chinky Mahoe. Since 2003, her main teacher and influence in hula has been Lehua Kawaikapuokalani Hewett. Her Kumu Hula under him is Susan Pa'iniu Floyd. Kaleo has traveled extensively to study with them in Hawai’i. Kaleo also studied Hawaiian Chant privately with Aloha Dalire at her Halau in Kane’ohe in 1998, and what she learned from Auntie Aloha is the foundation of her chanting today. She has been teaching workshops and classes in Hula and Chant throughout the US and Canada since the early 90’s.
Kaleo is not Native American nor Hawaiian and does not claim to be. She is a Haole (a Hawaiian word non-Hawaiians) who has spent most of her adult life studying indigenous cultures, especially the Hawaiian for the last 30 years. Kaleo also does not claim to be an expert of these indigenous ways, but what she has learned has given her a clearer understanding of purpose, peace and what love is - what we all are looking for and what is the embodiment and foundation especially of the Hawaiian tradition. She believes that she can bring this same transformation and a better knowledge, respect and understanding of the these culture to other non-Hawaiians. With the permission of her Hawaiian teachers, Kaleo has created the Halau Hula Pu’uwai O Aloha, a non-traditional school of hula currently located in Spartanburg SC. She teaches adult hula classes and facilitates other workshops and events at the River House at Glendale Shoals in Spartanburg and in Greenville and online through Skype. She also gives presentations in Hawaiian Storytelling, and in sharing her story of how hula and Aloha can heal and change your life. Kaleo has been part of World Dance Program and summer camp for keiki (kids) through the Lawson Academy of Arts at Converse College and the Spartanburg Parks Department in Spartanburg SC and has taught hula at the Montessori Academies in Spartanburg and Greenville. She currently teaches weekly classes through the Boys and Girls Clubs. She is a member of SCDancing, which is associated with SCAHPERD, the South Carolina Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. SCAHPERD is an association for professionals involved in health, physical, and dance education in South Carolina.
Kaleo has been a professional vocalist and singer since her early adulthood. Kaleo began performing as a female vocalist in her teens, first singing popular songs. She later studied classical music and opera, completing her college training at the Academy of Dramatic Art, where she moved into musical theatre. After graduation, she lived in New York City, singing and appearing professionally in cabaret and nightclubs, including Catch a Rising Star and the Improv. She was the opening act on a college circuit, working with the current up and coming comics who included Jerry Seinfeld. She performed in musical theatre, including the title role in a Florida production of “Mame.” She recorded demos for several composers; and in 1992 was the vocalist on Jack Conrad’s recording, "Mother Earth Dance”. In 2005, she began sharing these same messages of love and the heart as a Musical Storyteller and became a Certified Therapeutic Music Practitioner through the Music for Healing and Transition Program. She shares music in all healing venues. That include groups and especially at the bedside for those individuals who are actively dying or struggling with dementia and alzheimer's disease. In 2007, she completed her first solo CD, “Ulana, The Way of the Heart”.
Kaleo has also created a Hawaiian Cultural Awareness Education Program. She shares this with the young ones (keiki) as a SC Arts Commission Artist-in-Resident. Some of the schools include:the Campobello/Gramling Elementary School in Campobello SC, the Fairforest Elementary and the Pine Street Elementary Schools in Spartanburg SC and the Thornwell Elementary School of the Arts in Hartsville SC.
It is her passion to honor what has been given to her and to help bring an awareness and love for the Hawaiian culture to non-Hawaiians, especially women, here on the Mainland and in the Southeast, where she is currently lives -- and at the time when it is now so needed in the world around us.