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 and Japan.
From the age of 6, Leolani began Hula dancing under the direction of Kumu Keali’i Ceballos in his Halau Keali’I ‘O Nalani. 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 Nonosina of Anaheim to learn Tahitian dance. For years she trained and competed under the direction of Mevina Liufau and Tiana Liufau. Having won awards in many Tahitian Solo competitions, Leolani never forgets the teachers and mentors who extend their support in her growth and learning.
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.
Leolani recently 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.
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.
What our students say. . .
““I hired Leolani to teach a Tahitian lesson at my birthday party and she was absolutely amazing!!! Everyone said it was such a fun class! Leolani has great energy which is totally infectious and it was fun learning from such a skilled dancer 🙂 I would highly recommend her!!!” ~ Loree R.
“I’m very impressed with this school. The teachers are very professional, courteous, happy and super friendly. They make you feel welcome and make you want to go back again and again. Their knowledge is superb and I recommend it to any student who wants to learn belly dance or Tahitian dance. I give it 2 thumbs up!!! :D”
~ Aricely S.