About Nona Beamer
Nona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha Beamer
Auntie Nona was born on Oʻahu to young parents, Pono Beamer and Louise Walker, and spent her early years on the island of Hawaiʻi – which forever captured her heart - before the family uprooted and returned to Oʻahu so she and her siblings could attend English Standard School. Auntie ended up spending most of her adult life on Oʻahu.
Auntie Nona credits her grandmother, Helen Desha Beamer, as her greatest hula and Hawaiian cultural influence. She was fondly referred to as “Sweetheart Grandma” by her moʻopuna. Helen was a masterful composer, lyric soprano, and prominent kumu hula. Auntie Nona was also fortunate to know her great-grandmother, Isabella Kaʻili Miller Desha, and had many recollections of her great-grandma’s voice and hula work.
Young Nona began teaching hula at her mother’s Beamer Hula Studio in Waikīkī at the age of 12, the same year she began her studies at the Kamehameha Schools. This juxtaposition of two contrasting worlds – the entirely Western learning and framework at Kamehameha (which banned standing hula at the time), and her home and family life steeped in hula, music, and Hawaiian practices and traditions – went on to deeply impact her consciousness, and played a pivotal role in her life going forward.
Auntie Nona spent time on the U.S. Continent for both college and to lead a group of dancers in sharing authentic hula in small towns and college campuses, but ultimately, she settled in her home islands and dedicated her life to teaching, advocating for Hawaiian education and social programs, authoring books, fighting for what she believed in for her people and Hawai’i, all the while sharing and staying grounded in aloha. She was an extraordinary woman to whom we will always be grateful, for it was her spirit and dedication that inspired the founding of HPS.
This is Hula: A Tribute to Aunty Nona Beamer - StarAdvertiser
Nona Beamer - Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox
Nona Beamer with Heidi Chang, Multimedia Journalist & Producer - NPR