Artist Highlight: Anthony Kauka Stanley and Heali’i’s Polynesian Revue
Whether on a stage, through video content, or in conversation, Anthony Kauka Stanley’s character and charm instantly translate; He’s articulate, gentle and leads with an open, positive energy. Put an ukulele in his hands, and it’s not long before his smooth chops have intoxicated listeners to serenity. When onstage with his family’s dance company, Heali’i’s Polynesian Revue - he commands an audience with spirited sincerity.
Performing since the age of 2, Anthony is a seasoned musician, vocalist and performer. He worked for several years with Keahi Rozet as One Island the Band, toured as a guest artist with Royal Caribbean Cruiseline, and has collaborated with the San Diego Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Anthony also teaches ukulele to the San Diego Unified School District, representing the Center for World Music.
Just this month, Anthony won the Mr. Heiva San Diego competition - which consisted of interviews, a talent competition and inquiry into his local and Polynesian community accomplishments and goals. He will now serve as an ambassador for the organization, which is committed to promoting and protecting the culture of Tahiti and the Polynesian people. Their mission is to promote friendship, understanding and cultural awareness between French Polynesia and the United States.
Serving as Musical Director for Heali’i’s since the age of 15, he’s a natural leader. He also holds degrees in both Music and Economics, making him an asset for both the business and educational elements of Heali’i’s. We are honored to have Anthony as a Kala Artist to help support his success and community influence! Upon getting to know him, we have been fortunate to meet some of his talented family, and learn more about their legacy - Heali’i’s Polynesian Review:
Heali’i’s was founded in 1967 by Anthony’s mother, Kathy Heali'i 'O Nalani Gore Stanley. Kathy was drawn to hula at age 3 while living on Oahu. She studied the art and became a renowned hula instructor (Kumu), and founded Heali’is in San Diego, CA. Since, Heali’i’s has taught hula to hundreds in the San Diego area. They have won numerous awards, and have taken their beautiful Polynesian experience all over the world.
Kathy raised her three children whilst running this company - and all three are actively involved as Alaka'i (leaders) with the Heali’i’s today. Her daughter Edie Heali'i O Nālani, James Keolamaikalani Stanley and Anthony Kauka Stanley join Kathy and Heali’i’s - spreading the love of Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, and New Zealand through traditional song and dance.
Heali’i’s offers entertainment for events, and hula instruction. You can find out more about their services and upcoming appearances by visiting their website: https://www.healiis.com/
Kala are proud sponsors of Heali’i’s upcoming 56th Anniversary celebration, Mana - The Power Within, being held at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, CA on AUG 19th, 2023. Tickets are available now: https://artcenter.org/event/mana-the-power-within/
A word from Anthony on his joy of working with Heali'i's:
"There’s no greater gift than doing what you love. When you magnify that with people who’ve created love for you, and brought you into this world - with people you love and care about, that you’ve gone through a lot of thick and thin with - that exponentially builds joy. Doing this within a culture that does nothing but create a home and space, and love for other people - it creates a trifecta and exponentially increases my gratitude [for this work].
For me, music is the only thing in this world that can create this level of expression of peace and love. While doing it for yourself - you’re simultaneously doing that for so many other people. It makes all of the backend of putting on events and productions worth it.
With Heali’i’s - we’re now at 56 years from when my mom started the group. At the age of 12 and a half, she started her own company. It wasn’t just because she wanted to start her own company - it was because of everything she did to honor the generation that preceded her back in Hawaii. She moved out to California because my grandad was in the Navy. The top prolific Kuma Hulas - the teachers - of that generation in Hawaii, all consistently gave her the blessing.
If she was to be in California - there was not a lot of representation of the culture - they told her it was her responsibility to create that life in California, that tether.
I use [my mom] as one of my biggest backbones; What she created, what she inspired. In order to create something sustainable, you have to approach it from the mindset of working with people, not with clients. We are all people that are an extension of family. I try to emulate my mom by not focusing on the outcome. She is someone that would never talk about herself, even though she’s a powerful woman that deserves to be put on a pedestal. One of the best ways to do that is to create productions and an extension of family to honor the ones around us, but those that came before, and create a legacy for the ones who come after.
After 56 years - I can’t take claim for that much. But my siblings and I agree that if Heali’i’s has been here for that long, it’s going to continue. When you have something that radiates, and you see the bigger picture and the impact - then nothing is too great or too small to move you off that path.
For me - regarding music - teaching, performing; Although I appreciate all of my instruments, music is not the instrument. Instruments are instrumental in creating a connection. I’m fortunate to have Kala be my tether to create that. I try my best to not get caught up in the output and short run to be able to to create a longer tether of connection to others - even in day to day interactions with people, and on to bigger productions and events."
Giveaway! We are offering one (1) winner entry for two (2) to the event. Signups end SUN, AUG 13th, 2023. Winner will be notified directly via email on MON, AUG 14th, 2023. Please note: We recommend you reside in the southern California area or be available to travel. Kala and Heali’i’s will not provide transportation, hotel accommodations, or parking for this event.