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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 30, 2001

Dance theater finds home

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

No longer worried about ending up without a home, the Honolulu Dance Theatre has found temporary quarters at Windward Community College and will resume classes and proceed with plans for three major productions for its upcoming season.

"It's a great location, on the Windward side, about a mile from our old (Kokokahi) YWCA site in Kane'ohe," said Matthew Wright, director-choreographer of HDT. Three weeks ago, he had been concerned because renovations at the Y meant that his operations would need to find an interim home.

Wright, who leaves Hawai'i today for nearly a month's visit to research his planned winter production of a Hawaiian "Nutcracker," said parents and friends of his students will help with the move-in this weekend. And his wife, Celia Chun, will begin class instruction Wednesday, so students are asked to confirm their enrollment.

"We were lucky to get the Windward Community College's brand-new dance space," said Wright. "We'll do a part-time share thing with WCC acting classes. There are classrooms around, a green room, as well as a 300-seat theater still under construction."

Ben Moffat, who runs the drama program at WCC, read an article in the Sunday Advertiser in mid-August and called Wright to offer the space at a favorable rate for at least six months, with options to stay longer if necessary.

"We had a huge response, with 10 possible sites, which we went to look at," said Wright. "The Windward Community College space was the best."

The site has a new dance floor, plus the requisite studio mirrors for ballet instruction.

"It's perfect, with about 1,200 square feet of space," said Wright.

This weekend, volunteers will install the marley — a rubberized, linoleum-type material that provides traction for dancers as well as protection to the floor beneath.

HDT expects to return to the Y once renovations are completed for the dance space, said Wright. The school has about 120 students, ranging from 3 1/2-year-olds to adults, who come from 74 families.

With new rehearsal space, HDT will be able to conduct classes without disruption and complete its plans to stage "Puss in Boots" Oct. 23-25 at the Hawai'i Theatre, "King Kalakaua's Nutcracker" Dec. 14-15 and "Peter and the Wolf" in March. The Hawaiian "Nutcracker" will be a premiere, paying homage to the monarchy.

In dance circles, the HDT has become known for its ambitious ballet mountings and reworkings of familiar stories, including adaptations of "A Christmas Carol," "Frankenstein" and "Billy the Kid."

The shows enable students to perform in a setting of professional theater.

"We're very excited to have them on the premises; it's perfect timing," said Moffat at Windward Community College. "We have the space and would like to have it used. We have plans, but not immediately, to have some noncredit dance courses there in the studio.

"But (HDT) is the perfect group to fill the slot now. We're helping them and they're helping us."