Vivienne "Huapala" Mader was born in Brooklyn, New York. Before dedicating herself to the Hawaiian dance, she graduated with a B.S. degree from Connecticut College for Women and served as illustrating artist for medical research at the Rockefeller Institute, illustrating medical journals and several college text books.
Later she studied dancing under Ruth St. Dennis, Martha Graham, and others. Her interest in the dances of Hawaii started when she visited the island while on vacation. She realized that the hula was an art form entirely different from anything she had studied, and her vacation turned into a three-year stay. She studied the native dances under the best teachers in Hawaii. She even went to live at the home of the most prominent teacher in the islands, where along with her teacher's children and family she completed her apprenticeship. It was on the completion that she was given the name "Huapala" which means "Sweetheart" in the Hawaiian language.
Huapala studied the hula from the sociological and artistic point of view and has the honor of being the first and only one to perform the hula on the American concert stage. She danced before Hawaiian royalty as well as in the leading cities of the country. She was the first American whom the Hawaiians endorsed as interpreting the hula truthfully. At her studio in New York City, she actively engaged in making recordings and instructing classes in the art of the hula.