Michael Pili Pang, MFA in dance ’05 Mānoa
Roots: Maryknoll and St. Louis Schools
Career: Kumu hula and city administrator
Honors: Rockefeller grant, National Endowment for the Arts, State Foundation for Culture and the Arts and numerous local foundations
Activities: Hawaiʻi Museums Association board member, 2006 Pacific Century Fellow
Born in Honolulu, Michael Pili Pang began dancing hula as a youngster, later studying under Maiki Aiu Lake and Mae Kamamalu Klein. He opened Hālau Hula Ka Noʻeau in 1986 on the Big Island, adding a second hālau in Honolulu in 2002.
After many years spent teaching and performing, Pang decided to pursue his master’s degree.
“The best thing I ever did was go back to school,” he says. As the winner of a John Young Scholarship, he represented the University of Hawaiʻi in Sharing the Legacy: Dance Masterworks of the 20th Century, a program presented at Hunter College in New York in 2004. He danced solo works of Maiki Aiu Lake and Mary Wigman.
More recently, he danced at a Barack Obama fundraiser last summer.
Shortly before graduating as the first person to earn an MFA in dance for work in hula, Pang was invited to become a senior staff member in Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s administration. As executive director in the Office of Culture and the Arts, he has created granting programs, built the arts administration (a staff of five, all practicing artists), fostered partnerships and collaborated on cultural and capacity-building programs.