Photo Credit: Kristine Ho Photo Credit: Jonathan Godoy

TONI PASION (She/Her/They)

Toni M. Kemehana Pasion is a multi-disciplinary artist, educator, and holistic health practitioner. She is the founder and director of A Stage of Our Own Productions– an organization dedicated to practicing and perpetuating culture, creative practices, and healing arts through education and live performance for local communities. Toni is an alakaʻi (hula leader) of Hālau Hula O Ka Mahina Poepoe, Philippine folk dancer with Kayamanan Ng Lahi, practitioner of Filipino martial arts, and haumāna (student) of lomi lomi (Hawaiian body work) and ‘au lapaʻau (medicinal herbs). Toni’s community work and research centers on the voices of practitioners, Filipino/a/x experiences, Pacific Islander experiences, and communal and holistic health in diasporic contexts.

Toni is born on Ohlone lands (San Jose, California), raised on Tongva lands (Los Angeles, California), and currently living on Kizh lands (Fontana, California).  She is a second generation Filipino/a/x American. Toni’s dance career and journey as a lifelong student has led her to performing, teaching, and researching internationally in Germany; the Philippines; Guåhan (Guam); U.K.; Beijing, China; Mexico; Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa; and Hawaiʻi, as well as in various U.S. states. Through these ongoing experiences, Toni is in practice of dance as inter-cultural diplomacy, connection, and exchange.

Toni holds a Masters of Arts degree in Dance with an emphasis in Culture and Performance Studies from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, degrees in Asian American Studies and Gender & Sexuality Studies from the University of California, Riverside, and a degree in Liberal Arts from Santa Monica College. She has also completed coursework in Māori Studies and Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland, New Zealand through the UC Education Abroad Program. Throughout her academic experience, Toni concurrently underwent hula studies with hālau (hula schools) and danced with multiple Polynesian dance companies, thereby becoming accustomed to navigating and integrating culture-based studies, indigenous worldview, settler experiences, and institutionalized curriculum.

Toni has danced for the United Nations Small Island Development Conference in Apia, Samoa, Indigenous Dance Forum at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University, opening hoʻike ceremony at the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo, Hawaiʻi, the East West Festival at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Festival of Pacific Arts on Guåhan (Guam), ufaFabrik international cultural centre in Berlin, Germany, Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside Symposium, and various theaters and experimental spaces throughout Southern California and Hawaiʻi.

An advocate for Filipino/a/x and Pasifika artists, mental health, and communal wellness, Toni has created and facilitated work at Halikha Filipinx Art Gallery, Highways Performance Space, Self Help Graphics, Women’s Creative Center for Work, Native Sol, Carson Civic Center, Boogiezone Utopia, Pamana Kali Philippine Martial Arts & Culture, Torrance Cultural Arts Center, and more. She was also an Impact Fellow with TeAda Productions, where she facilitated creative self-care workshops at the UCLA Labor Center, Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), and CARECEN.

In the Inland Empire, Toni is a movement instructor with the Philippine American Inter-cultural School (PAIS -IE), and hula instructor and a 2022 company choreographer at Infuse Dance Studio in Downtown Riverside. Toni is also an advisory board member for Mental Health/Healing Arts curriculum development for Pinaysphere.

Toni is a writing contributor among artists of the Pacific Island Ethnic Arts Museum in a current book project titled Conversations Between Our Cousins: A Playbook on Identity & Memory Upon Shared Waters, edited by Noelle Marie Falcis.

Outside of the dance studio and teaching spaces, Toni enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and dog; being in nature; yoga; and watching live music.