Bay Area native, Monica Renee, was raised in a home full of musicians, singers and creatives. She grew up singing in church and always immersed herself in art classes, fashion design and anything creative she could get her hands on. This love for arts and culture follows her until this day
Although she had already been exposed to Polynesian culture, a culture not her own, through family and friends, Monica truly became passionate about the dances and music of the Pacific when she joined Spirit of Polynesia dance troupe under the direction of Kimo Baird in 2002. There she learned many dance styles, mainly Hawaiian Hula and Tahitian Ori.
After several years with SOP, she also spent time performing with Hula Halau Ke Aolani O Kamaile, led by Big Island Native, Kumu Shawna Bresler. The focus there was purely Hula and Hawaiian arts, culture and protocols.
Eventually, Monica relocated to Kona, HI. Initially intending to further her involvement with dance, she found it more important to step back and humbly learn the ways of the locals. Working for Island Breeze Lu’au Company and as a member of Calvary Community Church, Kona, she was heavily exposed to more teachings of Polynesian culture as her work and church community were intent on redeeming culture that had been forgotten or watered down by Western culture and so were constantly teaching on these subjects. A few years later, Monica returned to California with an even deeper respect and appreciation for the people and traditions of the Pacific Islands.
Rejoining the dance community, this time with Ke Aka O Polynesia, she brought along her enthusiasm for dance, singing, creating, sharing and serving in whatever capacity she could. She’s been involved in performance, costume-making, marketing and is now learning ukulele and choreography. She is always eager to learn and to share her gifts.