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Leeward Community College festival participants, from left, John Signor, Rob Cornwall, Starr Kalahiki and Honybal Sosa poses in Poitiers Town Square.

Leeward Community College students Honybal Sosa and Rob Cornwall held a special performance on September 19 to celebrate their participation in Festival à Corps, an international dance festival held this past summer in France. Sosa and Cornwall performed alongside Assistant Professor John Signor and distinguished vocal artist and Leeward alumni Starr Kalahiki.

At the week-long festival, held annually on the campus of Poitiers University, invited dance students and professional dance troupes from across Europe and select regions around the world take part in a collaborative and artistic expression. This year’s festival theme was politics.

Festival a Corps students and supporters

The group of four from Hawaiʻi came the farthest and were the only musicians in the festival. Once in Poitiers, the group begin rehearsals and classes with students from around the world and shared Hawaiʻi’s music and culture with them.

Along with Signor and Kalahiki, the Leeward students focused their festival performance and music around the story of Hawaiʻi and Queen Liliʻuokalani. The songs they shared included Ke Aloha A Ka Haku, or the “Queen’s Prayer,” and Kuʻu Pua i Paoakalani—two compositions the Queen composed while under house arrest, which tied directly to the festival theme of politics. Cornwall also performed one of his originals, titled, Always Here. Thanks to a translator, the largely French audience understood the Hawaiian lyrics.

Sosa and Cornwall also performed original musical pieces during the festival and even stepped out of their comfort-zone to take part in some dance performances.

“Our students shined!” said Signor. “It was great to see them grow, and it almost seems like a dream now, like it never happened. But I’ll always remember the pride in the students and the joy they felt performing in Europe.”

Festival a Corps participants having lunch

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