Spectacular costuming and performances mark every Barefoot Hawaiian show

Spectacular Fire Dance Knife Performances are a Barefoot Hawaiian Tracemark

The Barefoot Hawaiian performing in Shanghai, China

Today ...

The Barefoot Hawaiian performs many shows in and around the Chicago area and the Midwest, has a cast of approximately 16 entertainers, trains dozens of students a year, and has been in operation for 49 total years.

This places the Barefoot Hawaiian among the prestigious few with such long-lived reputations.  They are the number one Hawaiian entertainment company in the Chicago area.

The Barefoot Hawaiian's has an all-professional dance troop of 16 entertainers.  Over the years, Barefoot Hawaiian has been the proud home of some professionals that have become World Champions having placed in such prestigious competitions as the World Fire-Knife Competition, held annually in Oahu, HI., sponsored by the Polynesian Cultural Center, and in the World Tahitian Competition, held annually in San Jose, CA., sponsored by Tahiti Fete.  

The Barefoot Hawaiian has performed for global corporations and has been selected by cities, states, and nations to represent the art of Polynesian dance. One of its highest honors came when the Government of China, in 2003, selected only the Barefoot Hawaiian, out of every other Polynesian performing arts company on the planet (including all those based in the Hawaiian Islands), to represent the world, in Hawaiian and Polynesian Dance Arts, at their Nation's Exotic Show of Performing Arts held in Shanghai, China.

So whether you are located in the Midwestern United States, the Hawaiian Islands, or on the opposite end of the globe, the Barefoot Hawaiian possesses the artistry, experience, awards, and reputation to provide you the greatest experience in Hawaiian and Polynesian entertainment that you will find anywhere on Earth.


Gwen Kennedy at age 7 and star of the show at Honolulu Harry's Club Waikiki

Gwen Kennedy still active and performing on stage today

Gwen and her mother, Jewel, continue to run this family-owned business


To say that Barefoot Hawaiian's founder, Gwen Keaké akamai Kennedy, was being prepared for a place in Polynesian dance history even before she was born, would be no exaggeration. For the 9-months before that day, she was already feeling the vibration of the Hawaiian rhythms — her mother's favorite style of music.

Almost as soon as baby Gwen was able to stand on her own two feet and take her first steps, she was enrolled in Hawaiian dance classes. At age 3, this child prodigy was already performing on stage at the famous, and now highly nostalgic, Honolulu Harry's Club Waikiki.

At age 14, with already more than a decade of training by Polynesian dance masters and with professional entertainment experience, Gwen began teaching out of her home part-time while attending high-school.

The Barefoot Hawaiian began forming it roots in 1973 when Ms. Keaké akamai Kennedy, now an adult, started a professional entertainment business run out her home, booking Hawaiian and Polynesian dance shows for clients. Shortly after this beginning and simultaneously, Ms. Kennedy also took positions, first with Aloha Hawaiian Travel, and then with Hawaiian Airlines where she worked in the Promotions Department, booking entertainment for corporate clients. After more than 10 years as a corporate entertainment agent, while also running her own business out of the home, she decided that her heart was entirely in running her own Hawaiian entertainment company.

In July 1983, Ms. Keaké akamai Kennedy moved her business to Des Plaines, Illinois where the Barefoot Hawaiian opened it's new doors, complete with a dance studio, store front for selling Hawaiian merchandise, and corporate office for running the entertainment division of the business.  The company remained at that location where is was a staple business in that town for 38 years.

With changes in the business climate and the effects caused by the Covid pandemic, Ms. Kennedy moved the business in 2021 to a neighboring town in the northwest suburbs and changed the focus of the business primarily to providing professional entertainment.

Gwen's dream of promoting Hawaiian dance and providing it to the world had been filled —  and the dream is still alive and ongoing. Today, the Barefoot Hawaiian remains located in the heart of the Midwest and in the hearts of Gwen Keaké akamai Kennedy and her mother, Jewel Babcock, who run the business together.


Barefoot Hawaiian founder, Gwen Keaké akamai Kennedy, front center, at 4 years old
Stars in floor shows at the world famous and highly nostalgic, Honolulu Harry's Club Waikiki


For more information, call The Barefoot Hawaiian® at (847) 699-7336
Bringing Hawaii to the Mainland for 49 Years