Dancing with Kaiholunuie has been a rich and rewarding experience for Kaiulani. She has gained friendships, knowledge, and experience as a professional dancer. She began learning to dance the art of hula from her mother at the age of three, and made her debut performance at the Hamden, CT YMCA at the age of five, where she and her little sister performed “Hukilau”. They both charmed the audience with their moves. Since that moment, Kaiulani has remained a dedicated student of hula, creating an ori fusion class that incorporates traditional Tahitian dance steps and drumming with fitness, and contemporary music. With over fifteen years of experience in dancing, she realized that with the fusion of formality, technique, and fresh new songs, younger people would be drawn in. Today, she is a skilled performer in the art of hula and Tahiti Ori. Kaiulani currently attends UConn and is a double major in political Science and Sociology.
Being a part of Kaiholunie has been a great adventure for Tiare, In her words, "I have met and work with a wonderful group of people, and learning about hula has been a fantastic experience." Tiare has been a belly dancer for nine years, taking lessons from local and international dancers, and still dances professionally in hookah lounges and restaurants around the state. Belly dance introduced her to her love for dance and since then she has taken classes for enjoyment in multiple dance disciplines. Once she discovered Polynesian Dance forms, she was hooked. Her love of this art form began with Tahiti Ori (dance), mostly because of the physical challenge of it while making it look graceful. During the day Tiare works as a barista, but is still exploring options for a career in the arts. She currently holds a BFA in Illustration from the University of Hartford.
In addition to being a skilled musician, Kawika is well versed in Polynesian dancing, including Hula and Maori with a focus on Tahitian Kane (Male) style of dancing. He currently performs as a dancer and singer at Kaiholunuie, where he receives dancing instruction from Kekai, and occasionally passes his knowledge to the younger Kane students seeking instruction. He has also received dancing instruction from Tiare Kahana of Kahana Hula, Kumu Lani-Girl Kaleiki-Ahlo, Michael Heremana and Kumu Kawika Alfiche of Halau ‘O Keikali’i. See Kawika’s music bio below for information on his musical contributions to Kaiholunuie.
Ikaika began dancing with Kaiholunuie when he was a Keiki and has loved every moment of the experience. He first began dancing hip-hop when he was 6 years old, but his love for the Polynesian culture and dance led him to love the art of Hula, and other various Polynesian dance forms. He is currently a freshman in high school and takes part in a wide variety of extracurricular activities which include soccer, swimming, track & field, and he has recently achieved his Eagle Scout. He continues to do well in school and plans on pursuing engineering following high school. "Kaiholunuie is an amazing ohana filled with love and offers outstanding experiences”.
Pikake is one of Kaiholunuie’s newest additions after just having joined the group a couple years ago – and loving every minute of it! Pikake has been the lead dancer and choreographer of the ALAY Philippine Cultural Group of Greater Danbury which specializes in traditional Filipino folk dance and Hula. She has been dancing since she was six years old under the training of instructors from the Philippines where Hawaiian/Polynesian influences are greatly prominent in the melting pot that is the Filipino culture. Pikake is also classically trained in ballet, pointe with the Brookfield School of Performing Arts and enjoys all types of dance! She is a proud graduate of the University of Connecticut with her bachelor’s degree in Allied Health and a minor in Psychology. She is currently working towards her Master’s degree in Gerontology as she is the Program Coordinator/Asst. Director of the New Milford Senior Center. It is Pikake’s joy to be able to share her love of dance and culture and spread the spirit of aloha to all! Pikake is also one of our event coordinators.
Iwalani was inspired to learn Polynesian dance by her Aunt, which moved her to seek out and join Kaiholunuie in 2017. She has had prior experience learning a Tahitian dance where she performed in college. Iwalani often reinforces her love of the beauty, culture, and stories of the islands that are conveyed through movements in hula and Tahitian styles. With her joyous nature, Iwalani often states, “These celebrated dances bring joy and makes people smile.” Since she was little, Iwalani has had a passion for dance and learning. She holds a PhD in biomedical engineering from Yale University and is currently a research scientist, using imaging as a tool to study brain diseases. Throughout the challenges of school and life, dance has always been an outlet and a way of expression. Iwalani’s extensive dance experience encompasses multiple genres, and she has learned to dance and perform salsa, Argentine tango, samba, hip hop, lyrical...and now the art of hula! Iwalani is also one of our event coordinators.
Makana discovered her love for hula at nine years old at a studio that taught hula in Japan. She has been dancing this style ever since. After she explored other types of dances she knew hula was for her. When she first came to the United States she was introduced to another dance studio where her mother also worked. Makana’s hula experience as a dancer in Japan made her fall instantly in love with the spiritual art form. She is an experienced dancer who works hard to make hula as graceful as it should look. As she grew in her Polynesian dance experience, she started participating at shows in county fairs, holiday parades, birthday parties, and other venues. Makana took a little break from dancing when she moved all the way from California to Connecticut until life settled down. She joined Kaiholunuie in 2018, and realized how much she missed and loved dancing. The only regret she has is she didn’t meet Aunty Kekai soon enough! When she’s not dancing, Makana loves to cook for her husband Adam, play video games, and play tug of war with her 160lb. Newfoundland, Buster. She loves the spiritual form of how hula has blossomed in her heart, and wants to share the Aloha spirit with the world.
Ku’umomi has been a hula dancer since the age of three, learning and studying the art of hula under her mother’s tutelage. Upon picking up her first instrument, the flute in fourth grade, she realized how much she loved music. Today, Ku’umomi attends the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, Connecticut for vocal and instrumental training. She is classically trained in the flute, and is self-taught in piano, guitar, ukulele, and drums. She also sings and writes songs in other genres of music and is currently in the process of releasing an album. She is the songstress for Kaiholunuie, which she loves, and balances her performances alongside being a senior in high school. She would like to consider a career in Psychology with a minor in music therapy for the future.
Having been born in Kahului, Maui, the heritage and rich cultural experiences Aaron had growing up in Hawaii have always remained in his heart. Even after relocating to the mainland as a young boy, Hawaii and it’s culture of food, music, dance, and aloha have remained a big part of his daily life by maintaining cultural values and norms. Today, Aaron plays several instruments including guitar, ukulele, and steel guitar. Aaron’s true musical loves are playing mele O Hawaii and contemporary arrangements as well. Aaron has enjoyed working with Kekai Colello and her Halau Kaiholunuie over the last few years, and is one of Kaiholunuie’s primary musicians and vocalists. Aaron currently lives in Killingly, CT with his wife Alison and son Ross.
Kawika has been a percussionist and musician with Kaiholunuie since 2013. He began studying music at age 11 and was a member of several drum corps in his early years. More recently, he has been a member of several rock groups with an extensive discography. His journey in Polynesian music began when he was discovered by Tiare Kahana during the Hartford, CT’s Dragon Boat festival and was introduced to Tahitian drumming. Since then he has been actively performing with numerous Polynesian dance groups located in the Northeast. He has received training from master drummers Lloyd Chandler & Jay Medeiros of Tahiti Fete of San Jose, CA where he had the honor of participating in the symphony of drums as part of Tahiti Fete. Although drumming is his main passion, he is also well versed in various other types of Polynesian percussion and string instruments, chanting and dancing. Kawika currently holds a Bachelors in performing arts from Long Island University.
Sa'u is a Polynesian dancer and drummer who has been performing with Kaiholunuie for several years. He has drummed for Kailulani, Ku'umomi and the ladies of Kaiholunuie at various shows throughout the Northeast. His twenty plus years of experience encompass numerous Tahitian competitions and performances in Tahiti, Hawaii and throughout the continental U.S. His training and performances have come under the direction of Hula Halau O' Makalapua Marama Te Mafatu Nui and Te Pura O Te Rahura'a in California. He continues his dedication to the Polynesian cultural arts with Kaiholunuie and is excited to be part of such an energetic, young and extremely talented group where the 'sky's the limit'! Sa'u double majored in Biology and Marine Science and holds a BS degree in both from the University of Miami. He is currently close to completing his MS in Quality Assurance at CSU Dominguez Hills.
Kaiholunuie Polynesian Dance Company (KPDC), expresses the cultural vitality of Polynesia through many dance styles of the South Pacific. Our performance company consists of a thriving multicultural group of ladies, men, young people, and keiki (children), who come together as extended ohana (family). It is here they learn the art of, and deeper meanings of the hula, as well as other forms of Polynesian dance. Those dance forms consist of Tahiti Ori, Maori dance from New Zealand, and Samoan Siva. While KPDC maintains a commitment to authenticity, we strive to be inclusive to all those who seek deeper knowledge of Polynesian culture and share in aloha spirit. KPDC has performed across the state of Connecticut, into Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island. KPDC also performs at international fairs and schools in an effort to maintain our educational partnerships. It is our mission to educate and inform all youth through the arts, and workshops as a platform to instill a deeper understanding of Polynesian culture, artwork, regalia, and history. Many of KPDC’s artists are educators, parents and professionals who have a deep desire to preserve and perpetuate the cultural heritage and history of the people of the South Pacific. Kaholunuie Polynesian Dance Company is based out of Wallingford, Connecticut and was founded in 2004 by Kekai Colello, Artistic Director. She has over forty-five years of Polynesian dance experience, and over thirty years of experience in choreography and instruction. She holds a BA in English with an emphasis in multicultural literature, and a Masters Degree in Education. She is a graduate of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT.
Keona has been with KPDC for the last five years. Having tried numerous dance styles since childhood, she has finally found her preferred style. With a MA in archaeology and PhD in anthropology through Yale University, Keona works as an associate research scientist at Yale University on Near Eastern prehistory and cultures, as well as a researcher at SIAS Global, a technology-development and information-analysis company. Having fallen in love with Hawaii and its culture after a visit for an academic conference, KPDC allows her to pursue her passion in anything Polynesian. Through dancing and assisting in the administrative aspects of bookkeeping and outreach at KPDC, Keona is excited to be part of such an uplifting group and hopes to be able to share her love of the islands with many more people through various KPDC activities.
With over thirty years of experience in the IT industry, Hi'ilani's primary role with the ohana is webmaster for this site. She also serves as "roadie" for her husband Kawika, helping to transport, set up, and take down his sound system and numerous musical instruments. During one performance where Kekai was not able to attend, Hi'ilani was dubbed the "Minister of Music (MoM)" when she was left in charge of making sure all musical needs were met for the show. That title has stuck with her ever since. In addition, Hi'lani's crafting skills has led her to help make many of the costumes for the drummers and dancers. Hi'ilani currently holds a Bachelors in Information Systems from New York University and a Masters in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.