We had the good fortune of connecting with Glenda “Aiwa” Florez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Glenda “Aiwa”, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
When I moved to Colorado in 2007 I wanted to keep up with my passion which was Polynesian Dance. I had just worked and entertained for 12 years at the Famous Mai-Kai Polynesian Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, FL. and I wanted to continue dance and eventually pass this Culture to my Daughter.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have been dancing (specifically Polynesian Dancing) all of my life. One of the things that sets my group apart from others is that we try to make it affordable for anyone to learn how to dance- Hula, Tahitian, Fire Knife, Tahitian Drumming, Etc… In order to do this we established a Nonprofit called Halau Kalama. We encourage all of our Students and Families to Volunteer once a month in the Community and also help out with Fundraising. Our Board of Directors work hard to create a Volunteerism Calendar as well as Fundraising Opportunities. If a Student does his or her part each month they get a discounted tuition for that month. One of our most famous and successful fundraising events is our Annual Lei Day Celebration in Colorado. One of the challenges that we are facing now is not being able to have this event due to Covid which was our primary way to support our dance studio and continue to be able to provide discounted tuition for our Students. At this moment we are trying to supplement these funds by creating a Virtual Luau Event and other Fundraisers to help us stay afloat.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
From the airport I would take them to The Downtown Aquarium and eat at Landry’s restaurant there. The ambiance is amazing with Mermaids swimming all over. A great place for lunch or dinner. We would then go eat at Little Man Ice Cream and hang out there for awhile. I would definitely take them to Parker Farmers Market on a Sunday Morning, do the stairs for some exercise at the MAC recreation center, and shopping at the Castle Rock Outlets. One day we would go to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo probably come back to Parker and eat at Los Dos Potrillos and then ice cream at Rita’s Italian ice. If they wanted to see other places definitely would hit up Garden of The Gods, Castle Wood Canyon, Glenwood Springs, Red Rocks
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to give a huge shoutout to Ellen Akiona. Ellen started out just looking for her kids to get involved in dancing but sparked her own childhood passion as well. She has been crucial in the Foundation of Halau Kalama (our Nonprofit Organization) as well as helping teach, performing and organizing a multitude of events, and being the President of the Nonprofit. I want to mention that she is also an amazing friend.
Instagram: Kalama _Polynesian_Dancers
Facebook: Kalama Polynesian Dancers
Yelp: Kalama Polynesian Dancers
Other: Nonprofit Site – denverleiday.org
Jason Braddock – lifereflectedphotos.com