Eclecticism served in lighter footprint
By Carol Egan
Special to The Advertiser
"Dancing Green" reflects two passions — dance and environmental protection, says Betsy Fisher, director of the annual spring dance concert at the University of Hawai'i-Mānoa. In Fisher's words, "It is a concert with a reduced carbon footprint."
In lieu of programs, two screens on either side of the stage announce each dance, along with its credits and cast. For those seated in the back half of the auditorium, binoculars might be helpful.
Though the costumes and sets consist of recycled materials and organic fabrics, the production looks much like other dance concerts. Lighting (designed by David Griffith), perhaps one of the highest energy users of all, has apparently not been restricted. Sets, however, bear witness to the stated theme by the use of objets trouv s such as plastics, bamboo rods, branches and newspapers.
The program begins with a welcoming chant performed by kumu hula Vicky Holt Takamine, a longtime faculty member, followed by hula kahiko, as Takamine and ho'opa'a Char Ku'ulei Hazlewood chant and drum downstage. The 12 talented performers provide evidence of the ongoing strength of the hula program at UH, which attracts students from all disciplines.
The dances that follow reflect, once more, the eclecticism of UH-Mānoa's dance and theater department with an assortment of ballet, modern, break dancing and aerial work.
Betsy Fisher's "Signals," a modern work, leads off. A playful and colorful modern quintet, its leit-motif is based on arm movements reminiscent of semaphores.
Manou Lallemand's quintet shows off the ballet backgrounds of its dancers. Particularly noteworthy is Cassandra Glaser, with her gift for extending lines and movements out through space.
Amy Lynn Schiffner's visceral and complex "In-Flux" closes the first half of the program. The evening's theme is best demonstrated here by her use of set pieces involving curtains of soda cans strung together and large balls formed from plastic materials. The stark and sobering ending has the curtain come down on a snowstorm of newspapers falling from above. The set, by David Gerke, impresses.
Opening the second half is Peggy Gaither Adams' "Get My Drift." Despite the large group of 16 dancers, it has clarity and drive, aided no doubt by the fine, quasi-improvisatory accompaniment provided by Ernie Provencher's live jazz trio.
The final work, "Aviary," in seven sections, offers a bit of something for everyone. Sami L.A. Akuna's aerial solo, a slow-motion sculptural creation, opens the suite, which also includes three classical ballet solos on pointe and a lovely hula 'auana describing the Hawaiian honey creeper. Two pieces by Gregg Lizenbery showcase the controlled and articulated dancing of Lauren Santos as an exotic bird-like creature and the quirky/comic performance of a quintet of zanies masquerading as quarrelsome avians.
Note: Next weekend, UH-Mānoa hosts "From the Horse's Mouth," a collection of nearly 30 dancers of all styles talking about their lives and dancing brief excerpts from their repertories. The event takes place March 19 and 20 at Kennedy Theatre. For tickets, call 944-2697.