Contemporary Dance on the Big Island will turn 40 this year with a flurry of unique performances for dance newbies to aficionados. These events will take place in three charming culture and arts venues—Volcano Art Center, Kalani Honua in Kalapana, and Hawai’i Museum for Contemporary Arts–which have come of age along with the evolution of modern dance in the environs of this lush, tropical paradise and diverse cultures.
What happens when you mix inspired creativity with one of the most compelling environments in the world? You get the birth of the Volcano Art Center (VAC). This year, marks the 40th year anniversary of the birth of what has become one of the liveliest strongholds of culture and the arts on the Big Island. Two unique events in June “Dancing at the Source, Dancing on the Edge” will celebrate VAC’s role in supporting and cultivating the development of all the arts and many of the artists living on the Big Island, focusing particularly on the genre of dance. Volcano was the place where modern dance in the state of Hawai`i had it’s roots through the work of Earnest T. Morgan (1947-1991), his company, Dance o Hawai`i, and the Volcano Dance Retreats which brought dancers and teachers of international repute to the Big Island during the 70’s and 80’s.
The first VAC event “Dancing at the Source, Dancing on the Edge: The Birth” will take place on Saturday, June 14, 7:30 pm at VAC’s Hale Ho’omana. This event is a TalkStory with architect, photographer, and VAC founder, Boone Morrison, as he shares the living history of both the Art Center and the beginnings of the dance program with Earnest Morgan. Members of the original dance company, Trina Nahm-Mijo and Richard Koob as well as one of Morgan’s protégés, Kea Kapahua, will share dance excerpts from Morgan’s acclaimed choreography which mixed modern dance and Hula movement. Morgan and company were mentored by `Iolani Luahine and Edith Kanaka’ole before they passed.
The second commemorative offering “Dancing at the Source, Dancing on the Edge: Branching Out” will be held on Tuesday, June 17, 7:30 pm at VAC’s Hale Ho’omana studio. This event will feature the evolution of dance as a social justice and social change tool through the cutting edge work of former Co-Coordinator of the Volcano Dance Retreats, and Dance o Hawai’i member, Trina Nahm-Mijo. She will be collaborating on the evening’s interactive dance offerings with Eric Kupers, a Bay Area dancer and Director of his own Company, Dandelion Dancetheater. They have been collaborating on dance performances in Hawai’i and the Bay Area for the last fifteen years. Nahm-Mijo and Kupers will be sharing excerpts from a new collaborative work entitled: “Lele/Tongues/Gather” which explores themes of birth, death, and spirit.
As part of the 40th Commemorative Anniversary events, there will be a “Flash Photo Exhibit” featuring iconic images from Volcano Dance Retreats and Dance o Hawai’i. Besides event nights, the exhibit will be available for viewing on Monday, June 16 and 17 from 10 to 3 pm. All attendees at the two dance events will receive a free 11” x 17” 40th Anniversary Commemorative poster featuring the photography of Boone Morrison. Space is limited, so it’s suggested to reserve your seat beforehand by visiting www.volcanoartcenter.org_or by calling
p. 967-8222. General, $12 and VAC members, $10. Proceeds will go to benefit VAC.
A free performance of excerpts from “Lele/Tongues/Gather” will be held at Kalani Honua Eco-Retreat Center’s EMAX on Wednesday, May 18, 7:30 pm. This performance includes an aerial version of “Lele” choreographed by Annie Bunker and performed by Hawai`i Community College students. For more information, call p. 965-7828.
The full collaborative piece “Lele/Tongues/Gather” will be presented June 19-21, 7:30 pm at the Hawai’i Museum of Contemporary Art/EHCC. For these performances, “Lele” will start in Kalakaua Park featuring the large, ephemereal, natural-dyed silk sculptures of renown fabric artist, Akihiko Izukura, and progressing into the upstairs performance space of HMOCA. The performance there will take place partially in the round and audience participation is invited.
Kupers and Nahm-Mijo have been artistic collaborators over a span of 15 years, since 1999 when they put on a concert in Hilo called “Traces” with the theme of how oneʻs familial and cultural heritages can inspire oneʻs artistic expression and form. Nahm-Mijo is known internationally for her award-winning choreography which often expresses themes of social justice. Her ground-breaking dance, “Wheels”, which incorporated wheelchair dancers in a choreographed work was recognized nationally. Kupersʻ inclusive, interdisciplinary approach to performance embraces diverse performers in size, shape, race, ability/disability, sexual orientation, age, class, and culture. This social justice approach to art very much echoes Nahm-Mijoʻs perspectives and performance history. Due to the intimate, interactive nature between performers and audience, seating will be limited. So, please buy your tickets early. There is an advanced sale discount of $10 General/$8 EHCC or BIDC, available from HMOCA by calling p. 961-5711 or visiting www.ehcc.org. Tickets at-the-door will be $12 General/$10 EHCC/BIDC. For more information, contact: Trina at firstname.lastname@example.org.