Performing Arts: Dance
December 18, 2017
New York/Pacific Island Time took place at the 92Y Harkness Dance Center, embracing contemporary, modern, dance theatre, different styles of Polynesian dance, as well as dance-animation on film. The works featured were curated based on the Polynesian heritage of the choreographers who portrayed questions about sustaining cultural values and migration through contrasting works whose diversity was aptly represented by the artists involved.

A warm ancient chant by Kristopher Minami Kato opened the snowy evening with E Kanaloanuiakea/Kanaloanuiakea, smoothly transitioning into Keawaiki, a contemporary hula auana with a jazzy air created by Michael Pili Pang; elegantly interpreted by charismatic John-Mario Sevilla.

Trio followed with an interplay of relationships in an effort-shape composition authored by Kensaku Shinohara evoking his Japanese heritage. Signed by Pele Bauch, A.K.A. Ka Inoa incorporated theatre dance with of hula auana motifs, interweaving silence, sound, text, and music inspired by a Hawaiian goddess ritual. Departing from a task-oriented approach to the items she found in a brown bag, Bauch delineated a box on the floor which she later inhabited. Indulging hula figure-eights hip motifs that grew in exertion drove her to immerse her head into the brown bag, retreating from movement and clothing into mute obscurity.

Hepa!, a short film came as pleasant surprise combining footage of capoeira dance and percussion, edited with animation created with acrylic painting effects. Pöhaku portrayed Hawaii’s native people story of loss and struggle. Interactively, Christopher K. Morgan directed the audience to find twelve labeled rocks placed under their seats, which revealed landmarks in his aesthetic journey. Morgan’s piece took off, oscillating between ancient hula kahiko and modern dance accompanied with his chanting, augmented by electric cello played by Wytold. This was joined to a traditional chant underscored by a percussion performance of kumulipo and hula kolani by Elsie Kelehulukea Ryder.

Intent on echoing the conflict she experienced in the Philippines under martial law, 21st Night was constructed and deconstructed at length by Paz Tanjuanquio. She transited through space rearranging thin boards painted with the same design found in the background. A second wave of color came with Rolling Down Like Pele, a short film created by Laura Marguiles which captured Hawaiian dance groups performing hula auana and kahiko filmed in location with super-imposed animation.

Island brought a flux of contemporary discourse choreographed by Kun-Yang Lin, masterfully interpreted by Jennifer Rose under a single beam of light. Te Aho Matamua a Te Taata closed the evening narrated with delicate traditional ori Tahiti and hula discourse a Polynesian story of the creation of man; eloquently interpreted by Kaina Quenga, Ashley Inguito, Arikka Rin, Virginia Lin and Anthony Aiu, who shared creative ownership with Maori composer Pioro Jerome Kavanaugh and artist Kaina Quenga. EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriela Estrada

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