||Kumu (teacher) Debi Leilanionakupuna Paul
has been Polynesian dancing for over 20 years. She started Hula dancing at the age of 10, learning hula before her family moved to Oahu, Hawai'i. She continued her training while living in Hawai'i, and continued upon her return to Florida. She began performing at age 13 in local community events, followed by joining the Sounds of Polynesia group of musicians and dancers. She began her professional dance career at the age of 16, performing at the Omni International Hotel in North Miami Beach, dancing in the floor show at Wong Kai Restaurant. She also danced with the group at The Eden Roc Hotel in Ft Lauderdale, Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Tahiti Village in the Keys, among various private luaus. Shortly after, she was asked to join two other Polynesian groups, Chief Fala and The Islanders and Toti's Tahitians, travelling and performing with them throughout Florida. She continued performing after moving to Ocala, then to took off time for family and health reasons when she moved to Orlando. Eventually, she was able to return to her love of hula dancing and teaching.
Our Halau (Hula School) is dedicated to creating a warm, safe, family-friendly atmosphere for learning. Hula tells a story through beautiful hand motions, steps, and hip motions, and dance. Leilani dances and teaches many Polynesian styles; from Hawaii - Hula Basics, Hula Kahiko, and Hula Auana; from Tahiti - Tahitian dance; and from New Zealand - Maori Poi dancing. She also follows and teaches Hana Kupono (Hawaiian Protocol), costuming, Hawaiian culture, history, and music. She truly enjoys sharing these arts with those who are interested in learning.
Although Leilani was raised in sunny Florida, she lived and studied hula in beautiful Hawai'i on the island of Oahu, as well as throughout Florida with local Kumu (teachers) from Tahiti, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Samoa. Her style of teaching and dance has been influenced by many Kumus over the years as she continues to learn and strengthen her knowledge, experience, and technique. Leilani is an instructor/teacher of Polynesian dance, rather than a Kumu Hula and considers herself extremely blessed to learn from a number of Kumus (teachers) over the years.
Leilani feels Hula can be learned and danced by everyone, regardless of their age, gender, size, shape, or physical fitness level. Although she is not of Hawaiian decent, she feels "Hawaiian at heart!" She loves sharing her passion for the Polynesian people and their cultures, and believes in sharing the Spirit of Aloha with everyone she meets.
Many of Leilani's haumana (students) have commented that some of her Hula Auana classes are much like a mini vacation or spa experience due to the relaxing sounds of the Polynesian music and beautiful, graceful motions of the hands and hips. " Hula is a fun way of excersing without even realizing it!" Hula basics creates an important foundation for all future hula forms. Kahiko can be a little more strenuous and require conditioning and a strong foundation in order to master these moves. Her haumana (students) have become part of her ohana (family) and create lifelong relationships.
Leilani's classes are a welcome treat for keiki (kids) too! Her calm, patient demeanor and style allows her to keep keiki entertained while they learn hula basics, songs, dances, and a little Hawaiian history. Hula instills dedication, responsibility, and respect in keiki (kids). Many keiki haumana (children students) enjoy learning hula dancing so much they continue on through their teen years, into adulthood, and beyond! One can never stop learning and improving his or her knowledge and technique, so this can become a wonderful life-long journey! Come and dance with us!