Elena Iki

Elena Ponghellini embarks on her first trip to Hawai'i in 2006, the year that marks the beginning of her passion for Polynesian territories. She is interested in culture and is fascinated by the traditional Hula dance.

But the encounter with dance will come later, after a trip to the islands of French Polynesia in 2012, in which she will discover another culture and another style of dance: Ori Tahiti.

This journey led her to join the Mana Tahiti school and dance group in Milan, headed by Amanda Mendoza Zapata (Amanaka), an internationally renowned Hula and Ori Tahiti dancer and teacher, with whom she studied both technique and culture of Polynesian dances.

From that moment she regularly follows Amanaka's courses, pursuing her teachings.

In 2014, 2015 and 2017, during her subsequent returns to the Hawai'i Islands, she studied Hula at the Halau Hula 'or Kahikilaulani of Hilo - Big Island, under the teachings of Kumu, master of Hula, Nahoku Gaspang and Roxi Kamelamela. In 2014 she also had the opportunity to learn about a different style of Hula, attending classes at the Halau Na Puakea O Ko'olaupoko of Kailua - O’ahu.

She participates in a Hula course in Milan with Kumu Noëlle Delaquis and Kumu Keala Ching from Kona and above all she deepens his knowledge of the Hula with two stages with Daphne Peña, Amanda's teacher, who hands down the style and traditions of Halau Kahikilaulani.

In 2016 she participated as a soloist in the Aparima category in the competition of Ori Tahiti Heiva i Paris and during his stay in Paris she took part in the workshops of Moena Maiotui (first dancer of the Tahiti Ora group) and Tumata Robinson (director of the Tahiti Ora group).

In 2018 she participates both in the groups category and in the soloist categories (Aparima and Ori Vahine solo - improvisation) in Heiva i Paris.

In 2018 she returned to Hawaii. She follows an intensive Hula training course on the island of Big Island, including both cultural and dance aspects, with Kumu Sammye Ku’ualoha Young of HalauNa Lei Hiwahiwa ʻo Kuʻualoha. On the island of O’ahu she participates in class and private lessons with the school of Ori Tahiti Tahiti Mana, led by Manarii and Nalini Gauthier. 

With his group Mana Tahiti she participates in shows, events and television broadcasts.

She loves the Pacific Ocean and its islands, the way they see the world intrigues her and dancing these dances allows her to feel those wonderful places a little closer.