Dance Like Everyone Is Watching

You hear the word “dance” in Hawaii, and hula, Tahitian and other Pacific Islander dance forms sway and shimmy their way through your mind’s eye. However, variety being all that it’s cracked up to be, UH Manoa’s dance program features an array of dance styles at its annual Fall Footholds student showcase.


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Dancer/choreographer Lexi Hughes

“With every Footholds, dancers and choreographers add something new and unique to the program,” says senior undergrad student and choreographer Lexi Hughes. “In my past experience, this has included everything from various dance genres, martial arts and sword skills to interactive video and live accompaniment.”

This year, among the eight dance pieces on show are Goze, Under the Oak, which includes a live shamisen player, and Flicker, which incorporates magic into the choreography. There also will be an aerial dance choreographed by grad student Wailana Simcock, who specializes in aerial art forms in his free time. Speaking of men, if you know anything about theater and dance, men are generally well-outnumbered by women.

“This Footholds is special in that it includes an even ratio of male and female performers,” notes Hughes. “In the piece I choreographed, Cash Variations, I highlight an all-male cast, showcasing each person’s strength, agility and finesse.”

A total of 14 dancers will entertain during the 90-minute program, with a mix of group and solo pieces. Though there’s nothing spooky and spine-tingling about it (unless you’re still marveling at some of the incredibly flexible bodies you’ve just seen contorting themselves for your viewing pleasure), the choreographers are hosting a post-show discussion on the Oct. 31 Halloween day performance.

Hughes will be dancing in the concert, and she also created the program’s highlight, Cash Variations, for her BFA senior dance project. Don’t expect to read anything into the title ahead of time:

“I’m hoping to leave the connection between the title and the dance a surprise to the audience,” says Hughes.

There’s no particular overriding theme to the program. Rather, the department auditions student dancers and chooses the best of the best, looking for “strong performers, concrete and innovative ideas, potential to grow and evolve, as well as a suitable length,” says Hughes, who explains the process leading up to the show:

“The dances in Footholds are hand-chosen by the department’s professors through an audition process. Before this, students assemble their own cast and create a complete work. In the auditions, undergraduate and graduate students are able to present their senior projects and thesis works for selection into the show. The selection of student material can be very difficult, as many considerations come into play. Each piece in Fall Footholds has definitely earned its place onstage.”

the TICKET stub

When: Oct. 29-Nov. 2
Where: UH Manoa Earle Ernst Lab Theatre
Cost: $8-$18
More Info: 944-2697,