Interview with Mai Kai Owner Mireille Thornton

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has an interview with Mireille Thornton, Mai Kai owner and choreographer, in their Fitness section. Mireille was born in Tahiti, and after coming to the United States, landed a job as a dancer at the Mai Kai (despite not actually knowing how to dance). She quickly became one of the Mai Kai’s best dancers, and became their choreographer in 1978. She caught Mai Kai creator Bob Thornton’s eye, and the two of them married and raised a family. Bob Thornton has passed away, but Mireille and her children still own and run the restaurant, and Mireille still takes great pride in choreographing the Mai Kai Polynisian floor show. The Mai Kai, and Mireille’s floor show, are the centerpiece of the upcoming Hukilau event.

One thought on “Interview with Mai Kai Owner Mireille Thornton

  1. Mrs. Thornton is very serious about her dancing. Each year when she creates the new show for the Mai Kai, she does research. She seeks out traditional dance wherever it takes her. If she decides to use a native dance from Tangaroa, she goes to the hula master of Tangaroa and they ask permission of the “gods” (probably an inappropriate word here. spirits, whatever, it’s not at all correct) for her to learn the dance and they ask permission for her to perform the dance in public. Only if they get the proper okay will it become part of the Mai Kai show. Dave, co-owner of the Mai Kai, complains about the cost of these researchs, but would not deny them. He recounts the story of one woman who performed a dance in public without permission at a big gathering in Hawaii, and died that night! Mireille also has her hand in the music and costume design for the show.

    She is the “artist” of the family run restaurant. Dave is the gormand and general overseer of the business and Kulani handles the books and “business” of the business.


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