In 2003 I never knew I would miss dance the way I did. It truly was a blessing to take a little break from the dance life in order to discover exactly how much it meant to me. Once I had my Daughter in 2003 it gave me the motivation to come back to dance and to come back even stronger. This motivation came about because I just wanted to prove it to myself that I could bounce back from having a baby (technique and physique) and also because I wanted it to be a part of my Daughter's life as it was such a big part of mine. When I came back to dance (I will share that journey in another post...) it was around 2005 when I performed (in the show @ The Mai-Kai) like normal and would never foget seeing two beautiful women in the audience in the Hawai'i Section of The Mai-Kai Dining room. They were smiling at me the whole entire show and just as other Entertainers are... we feed off of the energy and reactions of the audience. So they were part of my focal point that night.
After the show as I was getting ready to leave the Musicians called out my name from the top of the stairs (as our dressing room is under the stage) just as they always do when someone was asking for us or if we needed to talk to Mua (our lead musician/ show Supervisor) because we were in trouble somehow. But, this time I was fortunate to have admirers that wanted to say "Hi". They were in the bar waiting for me said Fles (one of the musicians whom I just love til this day).
So just like normal I walked into the bar and met the two girls that were in the dining room and such an incredible audience during the show. They introduced themselves to me as Sadie and Kaya. They complimented the show and my dancing and wanted to see if I could do a private class/lesson with them while they were in town. They said they were in town for a Bellydance Convention. So, I thought "why not?' They sound interesting and they were super interested in Polynesian Dance.
We met at my Clubhouse in the Condo that I lived at in Fort Lauderdale. It was so funny. To know them both like I do now and our conversations back then about dance and me being intrigued by their Bellydance Lifestyle as much as they were intrigued by mine was just hilarious. We laughed about me teaching them how to tie their pareu and just all of our questions to one another. To my surprise they were really good. They learned quickly and were able to see the differences in our dance styles. They were very respectful of the Culture as well as learning the words and terminolgy correctly to match the dance. This was important to me because with my experience at The Mai-Kai (and other dancers there can vouch for me as well) there were so many people that wanted to learn the dance that never cared about all of those important things. I mean we had so many people watch our show. Not just Polynesian Dancers but Brazilian Dancers, Hip - Hop Dancers (we did have a visit from many popular people like Missy Elliot and The Rock to name a few), and we even had Strippers from Miami and other local Clubs come and "watch our moves". I'm pretty sure they could care less about what a fa'arapu was and how to do it correctly.
So this is when my friendship started with the Famous Bellydance Girls from Colorado - Kaya and Sadie. Back then they were local primarily in Denver and they taught classes and had a group called Groove Du Monde. Fast forward to the end of that year I got back with my High School Sweetheart (awwww!) and in 2007 I was moving to Denver, CO because he was stationed in the Military there. All that time I kept in contact with Kaya and Sadie and then I am now emailing them to tell them that I was moving to their State! They thought that it was a joke at first and then it was just all pure excitement.
The day after I got to Colorado I went to a Samba Workshop in Denver taught by Kaya and Sadie. My Boyfriend (Now Husband) dropped me off to class while he took our Daughter to the Greek Festival. Those that are from Denver know that this would indicate that it was in June. Just like that we continued our friendship through dance. Kaya, Sadie, and I would practice Tahitian Dance and since I had no Students or Dancers here I would do events with them. They even taught me some Samba and we practice the differences of Polynesian VS. Bellydance and also practiced the similarities. Through the Bellydance circuit I also met other incredible Bellydancers. Some of them I just danced shows with and some of them even became part of my group when I started it like Rooshana.
I must say that my experience with the Bellydance World has been inspirational and fun. I have Kaya, Sadie, Rooshana, and Bev (Colorado Talent) to thank for that. These dancers have taught me that it is okay to learn other forms of dance and appreciate other forms of dance without "selling out" your own form. I believe as long as one knows how to represent their type of Dance Traditionally as well as Modern and understand the representation of the dance it is okay to experiment or even fuse different types of dance.
Because of Sadie and Kaya I do know this though... beware of those out there that dab here and there of Hula, Tahitian, Bellydance, Samba.... and just fuse everything together and not even know how to correctly perform any one of those dances and have no clue what the dances mean or represent. You have to establish your own dance correctly before you try to learn another.
Now I am at the point in my career where I work with many Bellydancers all over the world who find Polynesian Dance Interesting and understand that cross-training in dance improves their own Style of Dance. I recognize Bellydancers weekness when it comes to learning Tahitian and things that they tend on doing which we don't do in our Dance. I train online and live and I love it.
Every once in awhile Sadie and I (she now tours the World!) get together and do projects and events. We just finished a fusion dance called Tablahiti. My daughter who is now 13 helped teach the Choreography to her. We find it NUTS since she was just a baby when we first met.
Always keep an open mind in life (not just dance). The most creative dancers and choreographers have respect for other forms of dance and find that we use everything around us to innovate and to take Polynesian Dance to a whole new level while keeping the tradition alive and passing it down to our family, friends, and others who also appreciate our Culture.
More about Sadie - www.sadiebellydancer.com
More about Kaya- http://kayastar.com
Sadie and I dancing at our first show in Denver, CO
Yup It's a Small World... this wedding was for the creator of 808 Viral...read below!
My favorite saying is "It's A Small World!". It surely is. I came to Denver to visit a couple of months before I moved here in June 2007. My Husband took me to L&L Hawaiian BBQ here (shout out to Sai and Avery!) in Aurora, CO. I placed my business card on the board hoping to book some shows before I moved out here. Who books me first? My first show in Denver was for Daniela Stolfi -Tow (Dani Girl). Sadie and I did her wedding at the Grant-Humphries Mansion in Denver on the Fourth of July. Since she was on a budget and it was my first show we gave her an awesome discount and in exchange she took my first ever photoshoot here in Colorado (behind our dance studio right by the dumpsters lol!) and she did my first ever website. Now Dani Girl is the gal behind 808 Viral in Hawai'i. They are independent Hawaii content creators that find and create some of Hawaii's most popular viral videos including PIDGIN SIRI and other videos by the awesome Team 808 Viral. More about them - 808viral.com Super FUNNY! Look them up.
Disney's Publicist from Disney Studios PR, Janna, connected with Kalama Polynesian Dancers and shared info about the film and links to content so that we can see the care and commitment that went into depicting Oceanic culture in the film. In addition Disney was gracious enough to supply us with any additional material, premiere images, and permission for Kalama to post our support for the film including the ability to dance to the songs on the Moana Soundtrack.
We are happy that Disney has chosen to tell the story of The Polynesian People and represent the Culture. We would love to share with you the magic of Moana at your next event!
In theaters November 23, 2016
I’d also like to share a look at the stunning realization of the original song “We Know the Way.” Written and performed by Opetaia Foa‘i and Lin-Manuel Miranda, “We Know the Way” showcases the rich and vibrant voyaging life of Moana’s ancestors." ~ Janna (Disney's Publicist from Disney Studios PR)
Click Here To See-Kalama Polynesian Dancers on "Everyday" with Chris Parente and Kathie Jay promoting the Disney Movie Moana
A message from Chris Parente KDVR, "Everyday" Show, "Jump Cut", and FOX 31 News
Thank you so much Primrose Schools for such an amazing week. Three locations in three consecutive days. You were a great audience and a pleasure to work with for Cultural Week. We truly hope that we made your event special to the Children who attend your school as well as their parents and families. See you next year!
The Polynesian Dance World is well - known World-Wide. Tahitian dance is widely popular in Tahiti, The Mainland, and even in Mexico. The Hula Dance is popular all over including in Japan. When I started teaching online classes this past Summer most of my clients were not even in the U.S. I have clients in Israel, Russia, London, Turkey, etc... it is just mind blowing.
One of the reasons why Kalama Polynesian Dancers is so unique is because I believe that our group shouldn't just be a show group or performance group. I also believe that working with other creative ideas within the group and with other groups is a way for the dancer and even the Kumu to evolve.
So I try to do as much as I can even if I would love to do it all. We have Traditional and Professional Polynesian Shows, Fire Shows, we Volunteer for the Community, we have a Halau with about 100 students, we have amazing instructors, we have a NonProfit that we dedicate ourselves to, we host workshops, and MORE!
It was only a couple of years ago that we started competing in Polynesian Dance Competitions. With all the things we do (we are not a group who solely does only competing) we decided to add competitions into the mix. Although we are from Colorado that has not stopped any of the group members to travel and compete with all the Big Dogs.
I am amazed at how well we represent ourselves in such a small amount of competitions we have attended. To compete is actually super fun. I love seeing my dancers talk and bond with other groups and instructors. I love the whole competition atmosphere because you allow yourself to be vulnerable. You allow yourself to be judged by people that you don't know but ... win or lose you gain a sense of self-confidence and determination to do better. You learn from other dancers, drummers, instructors as well as growing your own style and having a goal to do better next time around.
In competition there will always be obstacles (just like life itself) but Competition helps the Polynesian Dancer remain humble about their dance and also to understand that winning is not everything. It is picking up the work and moving on to the next. It is knowing that no one can define who you are.
I am blessed to have Kalama in my life and extremely proud of those that have also placed in Competitions.
We have put a mark on Colorado. We are a land locked state and not on any Coast but we are oozing with Aloha and we will share it to the WORLD!
We have so many clients that love us and want us back. It is so amazing to be able to touch someone's life and be a part of their event year after year. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to BROOKDALE SENIOR LIVING. They have been requesting our services every year and each year I always spice it up with a new show, new costumes, and new performances. Mahalo Nui Loa! See you next year!
"Grab a nice mu'u or pa'u skirt and meet me here!"
It is always wonderful to do shows with live music. Kalama Polynesian Dancers have collaborated with many musicians in Colorado including our very own Uncle Art Dacoscos, Stuart Yoshida, Uncle Siaosi Talitimu (Polynesian Fia Fia), Shan Oligo, Phillip Swain, etc... Today I was able to go and perform for a Corporate Function with Uncle Johnny Coelho from Hawaiian Way. Super laid back and just went up there to dance (Kanikapila Style) with whatever songs we knew. Not all dancers can just "wing it" the Professional Way. But for us it is a simple "Grab a nice dress or pa'u skirt and meet me here!". This is where you dance from the heart, from past Hapa Haole Hula's you learned as a child, even those that you don't know but feel passionate enough to tell the story to the audience with your form of art- Hula. Live Hawaiian Music is always soothing, welcoming, and fun to dance to.
It is a lot of hard work to take beautiful pictures. This past weekend we were one with Colorado nature and we took pictures at McCabe Park in Parker, CO. Thanks to all of the dancers who endured stepping on rocks and bushes and who went into the tall grass. It was funny to see them scared of spiders too! (Sara!). Thanks Latreesha with Maniyah Photography. We cannot wait to see the final pictures.
This was our second invitation and visit to Farmington, New Mexico. Our first time here we danced at a Pow- Wow. This time around we were invited to their Riverfest Festival along the Las Animas River. We flew into ABQ (of course on Southwest Airlines!) and went to eat at Frontier Restaurant. Yummy Mexican food. We then made our way to Farmington, NM about three hours away from ABQ. If you ever get to tour "The Four Corners" make sure you come during Riverfest. Rafting, games, beer garden, musicians, entertainment, and FOOD. The Navajo Taco is a MUST! You can also just have Fried Bread which is so good. We shared the Polynesian Culture along with an awesome Fire Performance to our Farmington Community. Thanks Myra and staff for having us again. We had a lot of FUN.
So... I found Elvis! Well not the REAL Elvis but the one that made a guest appearance at our Annual Lei Day Celebration this year. He was amazing. He came out on stage during the Hula Dancers dancing to WIPE OUT. He then continued to move his hips and dance with the girls as they did their dance to the famous song "Rock-A-Hula" by The King Himself. It is insane how fast news travels BUT now I have clients asking me for Hula Dancers and Elvis. WOW! I guess we made a lasting impression. So if you want Elvis to Impersonate with a Cellophane dressed dancer for a 1940's and 50's styled show... Give us a call.
"Thank you... thank you very much" -Elvis
|Kalama Polynesian Dancers||
Diary of a polynesian dancer