Growing up in Hawai’i, family or ‘ohana, was always the most important thing to me. Factor in the amazing climate, the beautiful oceans and the colorful flora and fauna and you have the perfect equation for a happy life. Life was made that much sweeter for me when my mother enrolled me in a hula school. The music and movement filled me with a joy I had never felt before. I was hooked from that very first class. I had found something beside the magic of the islands that made me happy and that I was good at. A few years later, I started taking ballet, jazz, and street funk. I was as much at home in the studio or on stage as I was being at the beach and spending time with family.
Then one day something changed. Although I loved my island home, I felt as thought I was not growing as a dancer. I wanted to get off the “rock” and explore what the world had to offer me. The opportunity presented itself when I was offered a contract at Disney World, Orlando Florida. I was a part of the opening cast of Tarzan Rocks! choreographed by Jaime King. That is where my journey began, one that would take me all over the US and the world, but would bring me back home…eventually.
Fast forward to the present. I have been living in Las Vegas for 11 years. In those 11 years, I have performed in numerous shows on the strip. I have been married and divorced, and married again, happily the second time around. I was able to finish my degree in Kinesiology. And now, I am a certified Barre and Pilates instructor. I have an 8 week old bundle of joy. My Millie girl is the motivating factor behind my and my husband’s desire to move back to Hawai’i.
I cannot make a living as a dancer in the Hawai’i. On top of the high cost of living, there are limited well-paying opportunities for performers. My goal, with the help from the CTFD Newhouse grant, is to open a studio back home. In the short-term, a grant will pay for a Megaformer certification. This is a new apparatus developed by a classically trained Pilates instructor. The certification will secure a teaching position for me at the only licensed Megaformer studio in Las Vegas. My long-term goal is to bring the Megaformer to Hawai’i. The first of its kind in the islands, my studio will offer dance, Barre, Pilates, and Megaformer classes
The most important thing that the Newhouse grant will allow me to do is to get one step closer to my goal of raising Millie in the paradise that I was fortunate enough to grow up in. I have seen many places, met many different types of people, and experienced many different cultures. But for me, nothing compares to the sights, sounds and smells of my island home. More than ever, I long to be with my family. I would like Millie to learn about her Hawaiian roots and to grow up with her cousins. She may want to leave the islands one day, just as I did. But, just as I do, I hope that Millie will always consider Hawai’i and her ‘ohana to be her home.