AT HALAU KALAMA EVERY STEP IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO BRING CULTURE TO LIFE AND PEOPLE TOGETHER.
GLENDA FLOREZ IS THE FOUNDER OF HALAU KALAMA CREATED IN 2011. THE ORGANIZATION PERPETUATES THE POLYNESIAN CULTURE THROUGH THE ARTS OF SONG, LANGUAGE, AND DANCE IN THE DENVER AREA.
“In the beginning, we didn’t know a lot about other Polynesian — especially Tahitian–, there’s was just a lot of Hula. Now I feel like… I’ve been here for 15 years, —- people are starting to know US.” They hear the drumming and they come in. Sometimes we even have like in the park and food trucks come and shaved ice and we become part of the community.
FLOREZ GREW UP LEARNING ALL OF THE POLYNESIAN ISLAND DANCES, GAINING EXPERIENCE IN TAHITIAN, HULA, DANCES FROM NEW ZEALAND AND SAMOA THROUGHOUT COLLEGE AND HER CAREER.
AFTER STARTING HER OWN BUSINESS WITH THE KALAMA PARTY PLANNERS AND INTRODUCING THE KALAMA POLYNESIAN DANCERS TO DENVER… FLOREZ WANTED TO HAVE A STUDIO WHERE THE TRADITIONS OF POLYNESIAN DANCING ARE PASSED DOWN TO HER DAUGHTER, AND OTHERS INTERESTED IN LEARNING ABOUT THE CULTURE.
“So I believe you should always be a student. Like knowledge, and like learning more, and I’m talking from seasoned, professional older instructors, but also younger, the younger generation. So uh, we have workshops here, a lot of them where we bring people in from Hawaii, from Tahiti, from all over, from Florida, everywhere and they come here and do like three or four days of like classes and workshops.”
THE INSTRUCTORS PROVIDE CLASSES THAT VARY FROM POLYNESIAN DANCING, SPINNING THAT CAN PROGRESS TO CIVA OFFI, OR, THE SAMOAN FIRE KNIFE DANCE, DRUMMING, HOOLA CHANTING, AND TAHITIAN AND HULA FOR COMPETITIONS. CHILDREN CAN START AS YOUNG AS THREE.
NAI’A BAUTISTA IS THE DAUGHTER OF GLENDA FLOREZ AND SHE IS A DANCE INSTRUCTOR FOR THE TEENAGERS IN HALAU KALAMA.
I think it means life it means the place that I can express my emotions and let it out and it’s like the thing that I really enjoy and I’m also always striving to be better. I never lose interest. I always wanted to do better I just yeah and I think that’s what it is for me. I couldn’t imagine my life without it it’s been in my life my whole life so I don’t even know who I’d be without it.
IKAIKA HAFOKA HAS BEEN WITH THE ORGANIZATION FOR 10 YEARS. HALAU KALAMA IS THE PLACE WHERE HE LEARNED MORE ABOUT HIS ROOTS, FOUND HIS WIFE AND HIS FAMILY… AND ALSO WHERE HE PREPARES STUDENTS TO FIRE KNIFE DANCE.
“it’s best to give them the strong roots in the culture and the traditional motions and building a strong foundation for them to stand on that way by the time it comes and they are ready to spin with fire they’re prepared and ready both physically mentally emotionally too. It takes a level of maturity to handle something of that magnitude.”
Like these kids I’m teaching now they’re in their teens right now so like you know 30 years from now and they think about dancing with Halau Kalama I want them to smile and feel that rich Mona that comes from having that connection to the Polynesian culture in whatever capacity that it may be so I want them to smile and be like “I really felt that” and that it touched him in such a positive light in such a positive way.”
OPEN ENROLLMENT FOR HALUA KALAMA TAKES PLACE DURING THE MONTH OF JULY. THE HALUA KALAMA STUDIO IS LOCATED ON 1732 S. CHAMBERS ROAD IN AURORA, COLORADO. TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION AND THEIR KALAMA POLYNESIAN DANCERS, VISIT HALAUKALAMA.COM.