Kennedy Theatre’s “Look Back: Move Forward” aims to celebrate the past, present and future of dance. The concert was created in celebration of Kennedy Theatre’s 50th anniversary, a fitting juncture as production brought University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa dance school alumni back to choreograph the eight pieces in the show.
“The idea is that we’re using our past to launch our students and ourselves creatively into the future,” director Betsy Fisher said.
The concert will display the diversity of the UH Mānoa dance program through alumni choreography. The pieces represent the program’s focus on innovation and tradition through the performance of classic cultural dances and twists on celebrated dances of the 20th century.
“We have this great mélange of works,” Fisher said. “Our alumni are doing wonderful stuff, so I thought, that’s the best way to celebrate 50 years.”
The dance concert will exhibit the original works of the alumni as well as the return of “Blue Green,” a duet choreographed by UH Mānoa Dance Program founder Carl Wolz. Other performances range from traditional Okinawan dance to a compilation of hula and classical Indian dance.
The vast array of pieces are unified by the choreographers’ shared history at the UH Mānoa Dance Program. Yuki Shiroma’s piece, “Uchinaa nu Chimugukuru,” will exhibit her knowledge of traditional Okinawan dance. Kumu hula Vicky Holt Takamine has collaborated with dance scholar Anita Vallabh to create a piece interweaving hula and classical Indian dance. “You’re the One for Me,” a piece choreographed by Cheryl Flaharty, director of IONA Contemporary Dance Theatre, will tell the story of Pele and her amorous relationship with Kamapuaʻa, the Hawaiian pig god.
Other alumni such as Andrew Sakaguchi will present pieces of modern dance with jazz and musical theatre influences. Alumnus Tony Young will present his version of Chicago’s “Cell Block Tango”; the dancers will incorporate singing, dancing and acting. The production will also feature the re-staging of “Deep Divide,” by alumna Jennifer Shannon.
“We have such a rich dance community here in Honolulu,” Fisher said. “Many of the leading people in the dance community were involved in our department here.
“The university gave some of the choreographers their first times on stage. It’s a full circle.”
“Look Back: Move Forward” strives to celebrate Kennedy Theatre and its impact on the development of dance in Hawai‘i. The production will return the choreographers to theatre where their careers first began and introduce the performance artists of the next generation.
“They all have memories coming back here,” Fisher said. “They all have a different take and different experiences.”