Dance With Leolani Taiwan Starting 2014!

Born and raised in L.A., Leolani Gallardo has 20 years of dance experience in competing and performing internationally throughout the U.S., Tahiti, Mexico, New Zealand, Japan, and more recently in Taiwan and Singapore.

From the age of 6, Leolani began Hula dancing under the direction of Kumu Keali’i Ceballos in his Halau Keali’I ‘O Nalani in West Los Angeles. At the age of 13 she joined the wahine team and competed with his halau at the Merrie Monarch Festival hula competition in Hilo, Hawai’i.

At the age of 14 she decided to try a new challenge and joined a reputed well known Tahitian dance troupe in Anaheim, California. For years she trained and learned about Tahitian dance and culture with this awesome company. She won awards in many Solo competitions, and group competitions with this troupe.

In 2007, Leolani was chosen to receive a full scholarship for the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Cultural Traditions Workshop in Massachusetts. There she had the opportunity to train and study with Neil Ieremia and the dancers of Black Grace.

While attending UCLA, Leolani began choreographing her own performance pieces, as well as teaching dance and developing her own arts curriculum in the ArtsBridge Program. In 2008, her ‘Arts IN’ Fellows internship included traveling to New Zealand to compare their cultural arts education programs to the U.S. and exploring the Polynesian performance scene. Here she got to perform at the Pasifika Festival and Polyfest on the Cook Island Stage/Village.

During her time at UCLA, Leolani took a year off in 2009 to do a dance contract with Tokyo Disney, performing in their dinner Luau show, Mickey and Minnie’s Polynesian Paradise.

With a bachelor’s degree in World Arts and Cultures from UCLA, Leolani has gone on to dance for Tokyo Disney completing a yearlong contract in 2009. She was an assistant choreographer on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’in 2010 helping with the debut of the very first Tahitian dance performance to ever be on the show.

Last year Leolani returned from Tahiti after living and training there for three months. She participated in the 130th annual Heiva I Tahiti competition with dance troop Hitireva, under the direction of Kehaulani Chanquy. Hitireva won 2nd place in the Hua Tau (professional division) group dance category, Best Fresh Vegetale Costume, and Best Male Dancer.

Leolani teaches Ori Tahiti Dance and Zumba in the L.A. area, and continues to hold workshops in the US and abroad. Besides Ori Tahiti, she is also certified in Zumba and Hot Hula Fitness! Leolani enjoys taking Hip Hop, Jamaican Dancehall, Samba, Zumba, and Brazilian Baile Funk classes as well.

Leolani never forgets the teachers and mentors who extend their support in her growth and learning. She has grown and re-invented her artistic expression, finding herself through movement, prayer, and meditation. Leolani wants to share her passion for dance, inspire her students creativity, and offer resources to help other dancers achieve their dreams.

Leolani's Achievements

Recently Leolani was a dancer in the new Jason Derulo pop music video which "is another ground breaking step for Tahitian dance in mainstream media". "Although some would say mixing traditional culture with pop culture is selling out, Leolani’s intentions remain pure. Her goal is not only to spread the Aloha, but to empower women through dance and movement. Leolani explains that Tahitian dance allows a woman to express her femininity". Please view the music video below and check out Leolani's friend's article on the effects (good and bad) of this exposure of Tahitian dance in the media:

Hura Tahiti Solo Competition in Fullerton, California (June 2013) 1st Place Overall Winner (Was held by Alex and Tanya Tekurio- the group owners of Hitia O Te Ra)

Hura ‘Ai’Ai, Farereiraa I Tahiti Solo Competition, Papeete, French Polynesia (July 2012) 2nd place, Women’s 18-25 division    

Ori Tahiti Competition, Las Vegas, NV (February 2012) 2nd place, Women’s 22-25 division    

Miss Heiva USA pageant by Friends of Tahiti, SOKA University, Aliso Viejo, CA (2011) Winner of Miss Heiva USA 2011 pageant    
Ori Competition – 2nd Place, Women’s 22-26 Division

ITO Competition, Anaheim, CA (2010-2011) 2011: 1st place, Vahine, Women’s 20-25 division and Overall Vahine Soloist Winner    

2010: Tahitian Solo Competition – 3rd Place, Women’s 22-30 division    

San Jose Tahiti Fete, San Jose, CA (2002, 2005, 2010, 2011)

Hura Tahiti Solo Competition (2006 – Garden Grove, CA / 2008, 2011 – Fullerton, CA) 2011: 1st Place, Women’s 22-25 Division    

2008: 3rd Place, Women’s 18-21 Division    

Varua Hae, Huntington Beach, CA (2008) Solo Competition Judge

Tahiti Nui International Fete, La Maison de la Culture, Papeete, Tahiti (2007) Solo Competition – 2nd Place, Women’s 18-21 Division

Nemenzo Tarena Tahiti Solo Competition, San Francisco, CA (2006-2007) 2006: Overall Soloist Winner and 1st Place, Women’s 18-22 Division

Nonosina Solo Competition (2006) 1st Place, Women’s 18-21 Division

Tahiti Nui International Tahitian Competition, Waikiki Shell, HI (2003-2005)

Reno Tahiti Fete, CA (2003)

Merced Tahiti Fete (2002) 1st Place, Women’s 13-15 Amateur Division

Merrie Monarch Hula Competition, Hilo, HI (2000)

E Hula Mau Hula Competition, Long Beach, CA (1997-2000)

Hula Oni E Competition, Honolulu, HI (1998-1999)

Leolani Information

For more details about Dancing With Leolani in Taiwan please contact naniHULA!

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