Instructor, Kanani Dias, smiled and turned on the music while she walked to the front of the class. Members of Tiare Fit stood in lines, ready for a class that combines both zumba and Tahitian dance. Classes are now regularly held at the Manoa Dance Studio on Wednesdays at 6:45 p.m. Classes are also offered with a larger facility on First Fridays at the Still and Moving Center at 6:45 p.m.
“Let’s get ready to work off the stress of the week,” Dias said. “Feel free to cheer each other on as we dance.”
Dias began her Tiare Fit classes on June 21, 2012. Her sister, Ashley Nakaahiki serves as another Tiare Fit instructor for the class.
Millie Mongalo, a Chaminade sophomore, attended a Tiare Fit class and decided to continue taking classes. Mongalo believes that it is an enjoyable way for young people, especially college students, to keep up their physical fitness.
“It is extremely fun,” Mongalo said. “The classes include hip-hop songs, which makes it a different, fun experience.”
For Mongalo, who has been dancing Tahitian from a young age, the change from traditional Tahitian drumming music made the experience unique. The choreographed routines include reggae, Bollywood, hip-hop, and ’80s music.
The class was open to the public at the Fit for the Kingdom event at Ward. Another venue where Dias introduced Tiare Fit was at Tunui’s Royal Polynesians Tahitian Halau. Showcasing her Tiare Fit class to a Tahitian halau brought both beginning and experienced Tahitian dancers to her class. This helped Dias to achieve one of her goals for Tiare Fit; to teach the basics of Tahitian dance to those who always wanted to learn.
Dias knows that Tahitian dance and following along to choreographed moves is difficult, she has had to go through much training throughout her life. Dias began her training under Kumu Hula Kapu Kinimaka Alquiza from Na Hula o Kaohikukapulani on the island of Kaua‘i. She then continued to dance professionally while attending college from 1995 to 2001.
“My kumu exposed me to many different forms of Polynesian dance,” Dias said. “Because of that foundation I was given opportunities to dance for Windjammer Cruises, Star of Honolulu, Magic of Polynesia, and showcases in Japan.”
Mongalo also said that Dias did an excellent job of creating an atmosphere of ‘ohana in the class.
“We encourage a very positive and supportive environment,” Dias said. “In class it’s good to keep moving, because our routines are designed to work various muscles, and they serve as good cardio workouts.”
The comfort and acceptance that Tiare Fit provides increased its membership since it began in June 2012. One of these members was on the committee for the Oahu Fringe Festival and Tiare Fit invited to perform for the festival on November 8. According to Dias, the success of this show reflects her classes well to the public.
“My main goal was to provide an opportunity for my class participants to showcase the skills they have learned,” Dias said. “This gave us a chance to share the energy and fun that we have in class.”
According to the official website of the Oahu Fringe Festival, the goal of the festival is to “present a provocative multicultural arts festival unique to Hawaii.”
Dias, Nakaahiki, and their Tiare Fit members know that this invitation was an honor, because their dancing was being considered an “emerging form” of dance.
Being a part of Tiare Fit also provides the benefit of contributing to the Honolulu community. This year, 2013, is just the beginning for Tiare Fit’s outreach to the community. They have already participated in the Hawaii Food Bank, the ALS walk, Helping Hands Hawaii, Moms in Hawaii and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This is in addition to their annual Food Drive that supports the Hawaii Food Bank.
Citing their Filipino heritage, both Dias and Nakaahiki are planning an event where proceeds will go to Typhoon Haiyan victims. Moving forward, Tiare Fit will continue to grow because it offers a chance to burn calories, have fun, and give back to those in need.