Posted on: Sunday, March 7, 2004

UH dancers, musicians get together creatively

By Carol Egan
Special to The Advertiser

 •  'Music, Art and Dance Fest!'

A dance concert collaboration by University of Hawai'i-Manoa's departments of Theater and Dance

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. March 14

Kennedy Theatre


(877) 750-4400, 956-7655.

The University of Hawai'i dance concert season is unique this time around because of the collaborative nature of the work.

Not only did the dance department provide multiple talents and much creativity, but it was equaled by the music department, which supplied musicians such as the UH Jazz Ensemble as well as original compositions by current and former faculty members and a graduate student.

It was dance concert director Peggy Gaither Adams' idea to bring the two departments together. The quality of musical compositions and faculty-choreographed dances enabled diverse talents and interests to join forces.

Many of the dancers exhibited impressive versatility through their participation in various styles of dances. The UH musicians, particularly the Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Patrick Hennessey, is doing well.

Bracketing the program are two suites of hula, beginning with a hula kahiko (old style) series of chants and dances, accompanied by traditional Hawaiian instruments and ending with an upbeat suite of 'auana (modern) and hapa-haole hula, featuring the toe-tapping mele of professor emeritus Neil McKay (whose compositions dominated the program's second half), Sonny Cunha and Johnny Noble.

In both cases the large groups, under the careful guidance of kumu hula Vicky Holt Takamine and others, performed with a commitment and uniformity becoming a long-standing halau.

Gaither Adams has created three new works. "Spiral Quartet" features a pair of dancers performing to the onstage accompaniment of composer and shakuhachi player Marty Regan and cellist Diane Rubio's delicate music. Her next two numbers, "Sof' Slippa" to an upbeat Neil McKay composition, and "Tapology," a virtuoso tap solo for Wayles E. S. Haynes (who elsewhere showed her strength as a modern dancer) to bass player Ernie Provencher's jazz accompaniment, showed Gaither Adams' affinity for tap and popular dance forms.

Provencher, composer and performer of "Tapology," proved a creative artist (he also arranged three songs for Betsy Fisher's whimsical "Questions About Angels"), but also a first-rate performer, serving as a last-minute replacement for the Jazz Ensemble's incapacitated bassist.

Several other dances also stood out, including "Sonata Dance," a lyric modern ballet for six dancers, and "Don't Call Me Missy (Necessarily)," to Neil McKay's catchy "Goofy Blues."

The single work not using music but rather vocal accompaniment provided by the dancers, Kristi Burns' "Seek," left a haunting impression thanks to its gradual build from a chaotic, spasmodic and unintelligible beginning to a structured and more comprehensible ending.

Once again, UH has proven itself a nurturing ground for emerging talent in the performing arts, as well as a residence for mature creative artists.

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