Kaina Quenga, a native of Hilo, Hawai'i has been dancing hula professionally for over 20 years in Hawai'i, Florida, New York and throughout the east coast. She performs widely as a freelance Polynesian dancer in the tri-state area at themed parties, community events, schools and senior centers. Kaina trained under Hilo's famed kumu hula (hula teacher) Johnny Lum Ho of Halau O Ka Ua Kani Lehua. With her hālau (school), Kaina danced in the world's largest hula competition - the Merrie Monarch - three years in a row, sweeping the awards for overall women's division in 1993. She also performed with Tihati Productions on her native Big Island and has traveled twice to French Polynesia, Tahiti to study in the birthplace of Tahitian dance. In the community, Kaina has worked with the students at Concourse House Day Care in the Bronx since 2003, teaching Native Hawaiian mele (songs) and hula (dance) to the children there. She is a Polynesian dance instructor at Spoke The Hub Dancing in Park Slope, Brooklyn and also has free Hula and Ori Tahiti dance performances throughout NYC Parks during the Spring and Summer. Kaina is among the dance Teaching Artists with Brooklyn Arts Council's Folk Feet Folk Arts and Arts In Education programming. She is skilled in Native Hawaiian language as well as in the art of traditional Hawaiian lei making. Kaina is also the Director of Nā 'Oiwi NYC, a New York-based education and advocacy group that perpetuates Native Hawaiian culture, history and voice in New York City. Kaina performed at the Aloha Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C. with Brother Ah and the Aloha World Music Ensemble honoring President Barack Obama. She is devoted to sharing and perpetuating the traditional dances and culture of Polynesia. Kaina Quenga is a true ambassador of Aloha.
Photo credit: Geralyn Shukwit.