Ioana is the creator of Kelani, a dance based class that infuses Polynesian movements with core conditioning. Sort of. It’s more than that but difficult for me to describe. Perhaps the difficulty lies in the not having anything I’m aware of to really compare it to. Hence the following interview.
Let’s begin with an explanation of Kelani please. It’s such a wonderful mix of movement, I always find it difficult to define when asked.
Kelani is an exhilarating holistic Polynesian experience. Intoxicating tribal beats, evocative hip shaking, mind-body-spirit and lyrical grounded movements with an island twist will sweep you away leaving your body drenched & soul renewed. Experience the joy in this freedom of movement, kick off your shoes and feel the rhythm of your souls! Chooohooo!
Your mission, as indicated on the Studio Kelani website is: To spread the spirit and culture of the founder’s ancestors – the Polynesians – and provide an experience that is both exhilarating and challenging. Please expand on this.
My mother is from the island of Samoa in the South Pacific. I lived a portion of my life in the South Pacific and what I took away from that experience was a beautiful simplicity, a happy-go-lucky attitude, a joy of life, a love of nature, community-village phenomenon as well as a rich culture. When I watch a Polynesian performer tell a story with their hands accompanied by music, or a fire dancer controlling the fire with such strength and grace I am overwhelmed with emotions from head to toe. Although my classes do include Polynesian dance inspired movements, it is more profound than that which I try to evoke within my classes and I try to do so in setting a holistic Polynesian setting and experience.
How has being a studio owner and sharing Kelani been a transformative experience for you?
Prior to entering the wellness world I was in tourism. My love of travel led me to that part of my journey. It was an enjoyable time but I felt empty at the end of the day in that I did not really feel I was helping anyone. I decided to venture into the wellness world in 2001, primarily to help my family and myself (having suffered from eating disorders the majority of my adult life), but also to help others. I always said if I am able to make a positive impact on one person’s life then I am happy! It has been so much more than just one person.
Over the years I have seen people transform in front of my eyes, mind-body and spirit. I do not necessarily attribute that to myself personally, but more to the community and family that Kelani has become. I set the stage and the energies and love shared in the space have been moving to say the least. It has also helped me personally on my own spiritual journey as I always tell my clients that I too am a work in progress. For my family it has opened the doors to a wealth of opportunity and experience. My two children and inspirations have been exposed to so much beauty, art, wellness, cultural and artistic diversity and I am proud to travel this journey with them.
Was there a moment that helped define your path?
I believe it has been a collection of ‘organic’ moments on this beautiful path. Every time someone comes up to me and tells me how their life has changed a wave of love rushes through my body and reinforces my passion and makes the path more clear. I remember one very memorable moment, when my client said to me she has a list of her top ten people in her life, and I was on that list. Imagine that! I am always blown away because in my mind, I am just being me. Happy, bubbly, whimsical, talks too much, barefoot all the time, me. And to have that profound effect on peoples’ lives is nothing short of a blessing.
How may someone become a certified Kelani instructor?
In January 2013 we launched our Kelani Instructor Certification program. We currently have dates/ locations set throughout Canada which can be accessed via our website. We are constantly adding to/ updating these locations. We have also been adding more Kelani master class/ workshops for the sake of those wanting to try it before diving straight into the certification. These are updated on our Facebook page.
It is my hope and dream that Kelani spread nationally and internationally. I want Kelani to be known as that safe space where people of all ages, backgrounds, physical fitness levels, shapes, sizes, can come and enjoy a freedom of movement and experience a taste of Polynesia. When I was a teen, uncoordinated but still loving music and dancing, I would shut the door to my room, blast my ‘hippy’ music as my dad would call it, and dance. Just dance for the sake of dancing. I would feel happy and emotional and wonderful. I want Kelani to be that safe space for people. I want them to come into my room and dance with me! I want Kelani to be synonymous with holism, joy, fun, laughter, simplicity, being grounded and connecting mind-body and spirit.
We will also be expanding and adding more branches of our Kelani coconut tree. I am currently in the processing of further developing our newest Kelani class – Kelani Fire (A hot sizzling fiery version of our Kelani class) as well as Kelani on BOSU and Kelani Jungle. We have also sent in an application to Guinness to attempt the world’s largest Kelani class during spring 2013 equinox – March 20, 2013. Stay tuned!
In closing I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me in Kelani’s mission.
With all sincerity, Ioana, Creator/ Founder of Kelani