Leilani and Kealoha performed around the United States with Johnny Pineapple’s South Pacific Revue

Leilani Cancilla grew up dancing from the age of 8. Born on Waikiki Beach on the island of O’ahu—Leilani was introduced to Hula dance by her mother, Dorothy Matsumoto Thomas. Her love for dance took her to a studio in Santa Rosa, California that expanded her knowledge of dance to include ballet and jazz while still cultivating her talent for Hula. As Leilani spent more and more time dancing, her love for the art continued to grow. She and her sister Kealoha eventually made it to San Francisco where they attended classes at the San Francisco Ballet Studio for over seventeen years. They continued taking jazz classes but their forte was always Hula—having years of private instruction from the famous Kumu Hula and performer ‘Koochie’ Koons. By the age of twelve, Leilani and Kealoha were traveling and performing professionally around the United States under the name, “The Thomas Sisters.” By the age of 16 the Thomas sisters were performing Hula on a weekly television spot. By age nineteen, the Thomas sisters joined Johnny Pineapple’s famous South Pacific Review and continued to tour the United States, performing in venues alongside famous singer Frank Sinatra and famous Kumu Hula and performer Hilo Hattie.

At age 23, Leilani’s professional career ended. She married Joseph Cancilla and they both settled down in Santa Rosa, California and raised a family. She started a studio called ‘Leilani’s School of Polynesian Dance’ and taught her daughters the art of Hula. Leilani’s daughter Lani Podzikowski continued the tradition by taking up the business and moving to Orem, Utah. Lani in turn taught the next generation of the family and also began teaching youth around the community under the name ‘Lani’s School of Polynesian Dance.’ In 2003, Island Style Dance Studio & Performing Company, L.L.C. was founded.

Under the direction of Lani Podzikowski, the Island Style performing teams have been delighting audiences across the United States with their authentic and dynamic performances that showcase the beauty and richness of the Polynesian islands for over forty years.