Glenda "Aiwa" Florez
Founder, Lead Instructor, Dancer
Polynesian Party Planners and the Kalama Polynesian Dance Group was founded by feature dancer Glenda (Aiwa) B. Florez in 2007.
Glenda is a Professional Polynesian Dancer and instructor who has trained with many Halau (Hula Schools) across the Country. Most of her childhood training comes from the Ilima style of dance as she started dancing at a young age (6 years old). She has danced professionally for more than 12 years at The Mai-Kai Polynesian Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Glenda has currently more than 100 students that she instructs along with other Professional Instructors whom she mentors. Her Team trains men and women of all ages the Art of Polynesian Dance and Fire Performances. She is also the Founder of Halau Kalama- A Nonprofit Organization.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Glenda Florez.
Glenda, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have been a Polynesian Dancer since I was a child. I started dancing at Church events. Since my Dad was in the Military, I was able to move around and attend different Hālau (Hula School) and also Polynesian Dance Groups. I started performing Professionally at The Mai-Kai Polynesian Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where I danced for 12 years.
I moved to Colorado in 2007 and established Polynesian Party Planners INC/Kalama Polynesian Dancers, a professional Polynesian Dance Group. I also founded Hālau Kalama which is a Nonprofit Group that perpetuates the Art of Polynesian Dance.
Has it been a smooth road?
In the beginning, no one in the Polynesian Community wanted to work with me. Most of the groups were already established and were not open to my style of dance. Most dancers learn from one instructor, where I have trained with many different instructors. I also would say it takes about two years to make any money in any business. The monetary struggle is real.
Please tell us about Polynesian Party Planners and Kalama Polynesian Dancers.
I have about 100 Students in the Group. I have ten instructors that teach Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced Hula, Tahitian, Samoan, Maori, Fire Knife Dance/Spinning, Tahitian Drumming,
and Hawaiian Language to Kids and Adults. We have our Studio in Aurora – Hālau Kalama. We have classes throughout the week. All of my instructors are my Professional Dancers as well. I teach the instructors and they do Professional Polynesian Events throughout Colorado. We have traveled Out of State for events many times before.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I see the School getting bigger and our class studio expanding throughout the years.
GLENDA'S DANCE TIMELINE
Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Gymnastics
Praise Hula (Polynesian Dance at Church) - Fort Benning, GA 1986-1989
Polynesian Dance Group (For The Military)- Osterholz/Bremerhaven, Germany 1989-1991
Fun Fact! Traveled all around Europe performing Polynesian Dance
Hālau ʻIlima Maryland- Fort Meade, MD 1991-1993
*under the Direction of Kumu Kas Nakamura (her Kumu was Kumu Luka and Louise from ʻIlima
Hula Studios in Waimanalo, HI now under the Direction of Kumu Lani - Louiseʻs daughter)
Hālau Maunakea- Killeen, TX 1993-1995
*under the Direction of Kumu Edwin Keolaokalani Maunakea JR.
The Mai-Kai Polynesian Restaurant - Fort Lauderdale, FL 1996-2007
*under the direction of Mirielle Thornton- Tahiti
And a few (not all) the following instructors/talented musicians-
- Carlos and Maire Tuia- Papeʻete, Tahiti (O Tahiti Teʻe)
- Hansen Simi Paialii
- Lorenzo- Tahiti (Les Grande Ballets de Tahiti)
- Joanna - NZ (Kahurangi)
- Brada Burke
Drums of Polynesia - Fort Lauderdale, FL (Short break from the Mai-Kai)
*under the direction of RJ Rewi, Uilani Kam, Heimana Tahiata (Now Heilani)
Kalama Polynesian Dancers- Aurora, CO 2007- Present
Mahealani Mika Hirao-Solem
Tiana Nonosina Liufau
Kulaniakea “Lani Girl” Kaleiki-Ahlo
Rahira and Kim Makekau
Kumu Kau’i Delire
Kumu Kuana Torres-Kahele
Glenda is also a Certified Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer