Goddesses in Motion

A chat with artistic visionary and choreographer of IONA, Cheryl Flaharty, on the celebrated dance company’s “living gallery,” La Madonna:

Your costumes are stunning; where do you get such extravagant ideas?

Myself and about five loyal volunteers make all of the costumes. I work with images in motion and the costume is one of the major elements of the image. The style of dance we do, butoh, tends to be with white makeup which, for me, provides a blank canvas – the dancer – on which to create, and all of the colors we use really pop.

Butoh comes from Japan and involves meditation, which is about expanding your consciousness into the universe and beyond. Once you do that, you become connected with the creative energy of the universe.

Jamie Nakama

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Tara performed by Jamie Nakama

Is this a performance or more of a tableau?

It’s like coming into an art gallery and the art is 3-D sculptures and they’re all alive. A lot of them look like Renaissance paintings come to life. So you walk around for a little over an hour and it’s very impactful. You cannot see everything at once, so people may want to go the first weekend because they’re probably going to want to go back the second weekend.

What will the dancers be doing?

We have 20-something performers and there’s a lot of variety. Some are based on pure beauty and they’re awesome to behold. Some are extremely funny. Some are very sensual and seductive like Pandora Out of the Box. A couple are a little bit intense. Most of them are interactive, but the audience doesn’t have to interact. For example, the Madonna of the Sacred Fruit has a mandala on the ground of real fresh fruit. It’s all been washed and she interacts with the audience by feeding the audience, but through dance and movement. There’s an aerial duet that’s just gorgeous. There’s an angel working the escalator.

It’s an experience, and it’s designed to shift a person to a greater awareness of the divine feminine and the different aspects and attributes of the feminine. Sometimes our works involve statements on the environment, this one is about the spirituality of the feminine. We’re connecting with the soul of the audience and that’s what fuels the dancer’s movement.

Are there men in the show?

Yes, but this is not about being a man or woman. Male gods are punishing. When you have a feminine energy or god or spirituality, it’s more about nurturing and growing and more environmental and more about peace and not war. That’s what this show is putting forth. Men will definitely enjoy the show, there’s a lot of beautiful women (laughs).

Are cameras allowed?

Everyone’s got one on their cell phone, so yes, but we like to not have a flash. Our work is highly visual, so take pictures and Facebook it. I just got back from a site visit, and we’re thrilled to have this venue because it lends itself to being decorated and designed as an art gallery or a cathedral or church. I am thrilled with how this show is turning out. I think it’s going to be one of our best shows.

the TICKET stub

When: Friday – Saturday, May 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 8 p.m.;
Sunday, May 6 and 13 at 7 p.m.
Where: King Kalakaua Plaza (2080 Kalakaua Ave.)
Cost: $35, $40 at the door.
More Info: lamadonna.eventbrite.com


If Ever a Wiz There Was …

I enter the elementary school auditorium (21 Bates St., off of Kuakini) where Hawaii Baptist Academy drama and band teacher Pastor Chad Logan of Olivet Baptist Church is gearing the kids up for their first full run-through of The Wiz. The group of 10th- to 12th-graders expresses such excitement about getting on that stage, that I’ve instantly got a contact high.

It’s Logan’s third year doing drama, and the school’s first musical in more than a decade. He’s taken a script that calls for a cast of more than 100 and made do with about 20. “We have four main characters and the rest of the characters have to play everything from Munchkins to the people who are in the Emerald City to Winkies to flying monkeys. There are a lot of costume changes, a lot of makeup changes.

“The musical genre is like Wizard of Oz meets The Blues Brothers. It’ll be really fun for the audience in this small, quaint auditorium, especially because our cast members go out into the audience.”

In this tale about believing in oneself, a couple of students stand out. Carissa Kano, playing Dorothy, finished play practice April 21 just in time to follow the yellow brick road to the Convention Center for the Miss Honolulu pageant … where she took the crown!

“I have scoliosis, so I wore a back brace for two years during middle school,” says the sparkly eyed senior, “and that really diminished my self-esteem, so my parents got me involved in doing a scholarship pageant with the Miss Hawaii organization.” A couple of pageants later, and this win enters her into the Miss Hawaii pageant. “I never dreamed I could sing,” she adds, “but Mr. Logan believed in me and encouraged me.” She’s lovely, she sings, dances and acts; this girl was born for the stage.

A somewhat shy, but game, Jonathan Huster subjects himself to interrogation next. He’s got the title role. “Trying out for the main roll was one of first times I’ve ever had to sing for anyone,” says the sophomore, chuckling. “I just had to go for it. I have three songs and a bit of dance. I’m also a Munchkin. The funniest part about being a munchkin is that they sing a song about the Wiz, so it’s like I’m so conceited, I go and sing about myself. I’m so looking forward to doing this.”

Hallelujah! The excitement happens May 3-5 at 7 p.m. ($5, $8 at the door). Visit hba.net.