Celebrating themes ranging from the darker side of life to escapism, this semester’s Winter Footholds showcases the original work of undergraduate and graduate choreographers and dancers at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
“Every semester, both undergraduate and graduate students get an opportunity to challenge themselves and exemplify their ability to choreograph or perform dance,” senior dance major Tomomi Jane Hara said. “Students who decide to audition for the Footholds concert undergo intensive training by themselves. Footholds is a representation of the dancers’ passion in our departments.”
Footholds are semiannual dance concerts occurring in the fall and the spring, Master of Fine Arts candidate Mareva Minerbi said. There will be nine dances in “Echo.” Featured will be Roxy Takaesu’s senior project, “The Journey.”
“It’s a great opportunity for students to present their work in a fully produced concert stage atmosphere production,” assistant dance professor Kara Miller said.
“[Winter Footholds is] an opportunity to see new and interesting work,” Minerbi said. “Art inspires, and dance has a kinesthetic communicative capacity that goes beyond words.”
Hara described the concert as friendly, casual and suitable for UH Mānoa students and the community.
“It’s at Lab Theatre, so the audience can have a more intimate interaction with the dancers,” Hara said. “We really enjoy performing for this audience; it’s a very friendly atmosphere.”
Minerbi also discussed the appeal for fellow dancers.
“It’s always exciting to see what your peers are creating,” she said. “There is an assortment of choreography which makes it interesting.”
DANCER/CHOREOGRAPHER: TOMOMI JANE HARA
A dancer for four years, this is Hara’s third Footholds concert. Her six-minute piece, inspired by Butoh (traditional Japanese dancing) is called “Darkness in the Light.”
“It seems pretty dark and heavy, but dances do not have to be always about beauty and elegance, like our life is not always about being happy and peaceful,” Hara said.
Hara’s life exemplifies her statement. An international student who moved to Hawai‘i from Japan, Hara suffered loneliness and depression because of her inability to communicate with others. However, she found solace in dancing and decided to pursue it as a career.
“The dance studio was the only place I could release myself,” Hara said. “I gained back my confidence through being passionate to dance and seeing other dancers who [I] can work hard with.”
Hara feels a connection to this concert’s theme, “Echo,” saying that it conveys the solidarity of UH Mānoa dancers.
“Regardless of one’s gender, age, year, genre of dance, background and skills, we stimulate each other and find ways we can absorb positive energy from the others,” Hara said. “This ‘Echo’ reaction helps students continue to grow year to year.”
DANCER/CHOREOGRAPHER ROXY TAKAESU
Roxy Takaesu is a senior BFA dance major. Her piece, “The Journey,” is a three-section piece involving her dance experiences at UH Mānoa.
“The first section depicts what I thought dance in college would be like, very competitive and ‘cutthroat.’ The second section depicts myself trying to find my “dance identity” because I came from so many different kinds of dance styles through the years. The third and final section depicts my current view of myself and the dance department,” Takaesu said. “I have found my own voice in dance, meaning that I am not defined by one specific style but instead my own personal style of movement.”
“Echo” is not Takaesu’s first Footholds concert. She has participated in every Footholds concert during her time at UH Mānoa.
“My sophomore and junior spring semesters stood out to me the most. For the senior pieces of past BFA students Chelsea Van Billard and Rashida Vennie, I shared the stage not only with my very close friends, but some of the most talented people I know,” Takaesu said. “I could also see growth in myself as a dancer during that time, and those two shows are definitely ones that I will never forget.”
Takaesu began to dance at age four and started creating dances as a high school sophomore. She explained her motivations behind her pursuit of dance.
“I started dancing Hula when I was younger because my older cousins danced. I tried ballet also when I was that young, but I didn’t originally like it,” Takaesu said. “I later went to a performing arts summer school camp at Kamehameha Schools when I was in upper elementary and I got hooked into dancing other styles. Returning to dance there made me realize how much I actually enjoyed it.”