Gymnastics, dance combine forces

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Tiffany Dick of Aloha Dance Studio speaks with Kay and Jack Leonard of the Kaua‘i Gymnastics Academy on reopening plans while Tiffany’s daughter Harlee gets involved with the tramp equipment in the background.

PUHI — June 1 marked a new page for Kaua‘i Gymnastics Academy — when the handover from Jack and Kay Leonard to Tiffany and Pono Dick of the Aloha Dance Studio is complete.

“Gymnastics and Dance!” said Kay Leonard. “It can’t be better than that.”

Jack Leonard said they used to attend a lot of the Aloha Dance Studio recitals and it was not unusual to see a lot of the Kaua‘i Gymnastics athletes performing.

“I’d give them a hard time” Jack said. “They flow through a three-minute performance, and have problems with a floor routine that’s just more than a minute. We practice artistic gymnastics where, at the highest level, gymnasts are required to take ballet classes.”

June 1 also marked the retirement for Jack and Kay who have spend the past 15 years as owners and coaches at the KGA in Puhi.

“We have taught more than 2,000 keiki, and have had positive impact in the coaching of champions like the 2019 Tandem Surfing Champions Kalani Vierra and Krystl Apeles Erickson, and more,” Kay said in an email announcing their retirement plans. “We would really like our legacy to carry on. To be honest, it will break Jack’s heart if we have to close shop and sell the equipment.”

The couple have spent the past weeks deep cleaning, setting up new markers for social distancing, and preparing the Puhi facility for the Aloha Dance Studio.

“This is closure,” Jack said. “We did our final tests, outside because of the COVID-19, using hula hoops to social distance, and the gymnasts did well under the improvised conditions. The wonderful thing about this ‘flip’ is the synergy that the two disciplines already enjoy. KGA and ADS already share quite a few students. This is simply galvanizing the effect.”

Kaua‘i Gymnastics Academy will be staying at its current Puhi location, and the current coaching staff, many of whom started as KGA students, will remain. Aloha Dance Studio will stay in its building located behind The Home Depot, and its space adjacent to Macy’s at the Kukui Grove Center.

“Nearly all the current coaches were gymnasts under Jack’s tutelege,” Kay said. “Many former students stop in at the gym when they are back from college, or elsewhere. KGA is their home away from home so we are extremely happy the legacy will continue.”

When Mrs. Tiffany, as she is known in the ADS world, heard that the Leonards were ready to retire, but were looking for their legacy to continue, she “leapt” at the opportunity toward a future goal of combining everyone under one roof to make it easy for gymnasts to help dancers, and dancers to help gymnasts without having to drive anywhere else.

Mrs. Tiffany, with the help of her “sidekick” Harlee, husband Pono, and parents, have been teaching happy boys and girls for 18 years, many of her students can be seen during the month-long Fall Festival celebrating Halloween at the Kukui Grove Center, appearances at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life luminaria lighting, and more.

Both KGA and ADS have been closed since March 16 by the pandemic.

Aloha Dance Studio has done some switching to virtual, sharing a private link to their kids’ fitness video, ToeBellyUPBelly, to its current students, and is working on a virtual summer dance program.

Mrs. Tiffany is working with the Kaua‘i Gymnastics staff in planning on how to safely reopen, hopefully, in mid-June for both disciplines.



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