DANCE LOVER? Looking for new and unusual entertainment for a late summer’s evening? Look no further than the University of Hawaii’s Kennedy Theatre, where over the next three weekends a wide range of dance styles will be presented by Outreach College.
In this time of budget cuts, it is heartening to see the university take the initiative to continue its practice of highlighting the talents of local and visiting dance artists.
Formal Japanese dance opens the series, followed by a dynamic fusion, blending traditional Japanese with contemporary modern dance. The series concludes with works from the American ballet repertory.
AUGUST DAYS DANCE SERIES
Kennedy Theatre, University of Hawaii-Manoa
Onoe Kikunobu Dance Company: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $25-$30
Keiko Fujii Dance Company: 2 p.m. Aug. 15; $18-$30
Ballet Hawaii: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 21, 2 p.m. Aug. 22; $28-$50
Tickets: 944-2697 or www.etickethawaii.com/orc.html
Appropriately, considering the university’s strong East-West affiliations, the series begins with the local Onoe Kikunobu Dance Company. Kikunobu is a longtime member of the dance faculty at UH-Manoa as well as the principal choreographer for the department’s kabuki productions.
Kikunobu’s company, now celebrating its 36th anniversary, performs the style known as nihon buyo. Literally translated as "Japanese dance," nihon buyo incorporates elements of earlier ceremonial forms such as bugaku (a style for court performances) and nohgaku (noh theater), as well as modern themes. It can be described as a treasury of Japanese art from ancient to modern times.
Guest artists from the mainland and Japan will perform while others provide the elegant and elaborate makeup, hairstyles and costumes.
CONTINUING THE East-meets-West theme, the second weekend of dance brings the Keiko Fujii Dance Company from Osaka, presenting Fujii’s own "Hana — The Flower II."
Keiko Fujii has spent a life in dance. The daughter of a dance instructor, she began learning classical Japanese dance at age 3 and later studied modern dance with Honolulu-based teachers Betty Jones and Fritz Ludin. Fujii’s work produces a dynamic style born of tradition and innovation. As a former guest artist in the UH dance department, she is well acquainted with the Kennedy stage. Two UH dancers and two from Fujii’s own company will join her onstage in this work.
The piece is based on an ancient Japanese legend about the sacred Amida Pond of Osaka.
"I thought that I would forge a bridge between Japan and the U.S. by using this ancient story with its universal theme of overcoming hardships," Fujii says.
BALLET HAWAII brings the series to a close with its production, "Cool Ballet for a Hot Summer Night: A Medley of American Dance." The concert features works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins and Tom Pazik.
Among the guest dancers joining Ballet Hawaii for this event are rising stars at the New York City Ballet, siblings Megan and Robert Fairchild and Andrew Veyette; Romi Beppu from Ballet West; and Timour Bourtasenkov of the Carolina Ballet.
Balanchine’s "Serenade," danced to a lush Tchaikovsky score, highlights the program. Two pas de deux by Robbins and Martins, plus Pazik’s light and humorous "By George!" (music by George Gershwin) round out the evening.
Originally choreographed for the first group of students to enter the School of American Ballet, "Serenade" was conceived as a demonstration of ballet technique. However, the choreography took an unexpected turn when various incidents (a dancer arriving late, another fainting) occurred during rehearsal. Those moments are fun to spot.