Dance studio

AAPI Heritage Month: Albuquerque Dance Studio Shines a Light on Polynesian Culture

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and even though New Mexico is thousands of miles from all the Polynesian islands, a local dance school has found a way to bring “l ‘aloha spirit’ in Albuquerque.

Ka La Kapu opened its doors almost 10 years ago.

“It started as a hobby in my garage and there were probably, I would say, five to ten of us on a regular basis – and it just grew from there,” said Kellie Villicano, owner and lead instructor at Ka La Kapu.

Today, the school has more than 50 students enrolled.

“We’ve been carrying Polynesian culture in Albuquerque for almost a decade now,” Villicano said, “and what I love about our school is that our students not only learn the dances, but also the history, customs, culture and a bit of language too.”

Open registration for Ka La Kapu arrives in June, and Villicano told us it’s something everyone of all ages and cultural backgrounds can enjoy — even Albuquerque Isotopes.

“They brought a few players into our studio and learned to dance and also learned a bit about the culture,” she said.

Villicano grew up in Southern California where there is a large Polynesian population.

“So I had to find that culture,” she said. “I am not of Polynesian origin. My cousins ​​are, and from there they brought me into this culture that I fell in love with.”

Villicano also said, “That’s what’s so great about Polynesian culture, it’s so welcoming to anyone who wants to learn and that’s what we’re here for.”

If you want to catch a show, Ka La Kapu students dance during the New Mexico United game on Saturday May 21 – and during the Isotopes game on Friday May 27.

If you also want to hula – or take a course on Polynesian language, history and culture – visit the Ka La Kapu website for more details.

Kellie Villicano was kind enough to introduce our KOB 4 team to the culture by teaching them a hula. Click on the video above to see the dance and learn more about the culture.