Department of Theatre and Dance presents family friendly production

The motion of the ocean inspires movement, music, puppets, and fantastical dancing sea creatures

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Kennedy Theatre, (808) 956-2598
Publicity Director, Department of Theatre and Dance
Posted: Apr 17, 2012

"Ocean's Motion"
"Ocean's Motion"

The University of Hawai’i at Mānoa’s Department of Theatre and Dance presents the world premiere of Ocean’s Motion on Kennedy Theatre’s main stage April 20, 21, 27, 28 at 7:30 p.m., and April 29 at 2 p.m.   The motion of the ocean inspires movement, music, puppets, and fantastical dancing sea creatures in this family friendly production, directed by UH Mānoa Professors Betsy Fisher and Amy Lynn Schiffner and choreographed by UH Mānoa Dance faculty who created a variety of works on the ocean theme.  Audiences will have an opportunity to attend a pre-show chat on April 28 at 6:30 p.m.

Dancers slip and slide into action in Slippery When Wet by Peggy Gaither Adams. In Daughters of the Sea (1994) by Gregg Lizenbery, dancers create waves and cross currents to a score by Obu Addy. Water Colors, a new work by Betsy Fisher to music by Alwin Nikolais, will feature projected paintings of the ocean by Hanahau‘oli School elementary students. The UH Tahitian Ensemble, led by Jane Moulin, presents an ‘ōrero (chant) delivered by Steve Te‘urahau Chailloux (new to the UHM Tahitian language faculty) and Te Moana, The Ocean, a set of short dances celebrating the life and treasures of the sea. The finale, entitled Ocean's Motion, is a fun-filled ocean fantasy where Sea Bird, Foamy and Bubbles join mythical water spirit Sundara on a magical journey to the bottom of the sea; directed and choreographed by Amy Lynn Schiffner, Kara Miller, and Vicky Holt Takamine, and performed by dance, theatre, and puppetry students. The main characters are Foamy played by Walt Gaines, Bubbles performed by Jen Dickenson and Cindy Hartigan, and Sea Bird performed by Jillian Blakkan-Strauss and Benjamin Sota.

"Ocean's Motion combines its creators' passions for the ocean's wonder through dance, theater, and puppetry,” explained Fisher.  “The first half of the production features new and repertory Modern Dance and Tahitian Dance.  The second half includes dancers, actors, puppets, and underwater video in the collaboratively created Ocean's Motion."

Scenic designer Meg Hanna and lighting designer Asuka Endo team up to transform the main stage into an enchanted, multi-layered, underwater world. 

Movement and visuals create a stage filled with glowing moon jellyfish, octopus, and cookie cutter sharks that recreate bioluminescent sea life dwelling on the ocean’s floor. Costume designer Cheri Vasek and puppet designer Morgan Lane-Tanner worked closely together to create sea creature costumes and puppets ranging from schools of tropical fish, sea anemones, and manta rays, to dolphins, eels, a leafy sea dragon, and a 20 foot-long whale manipulated by five puppeteers. Their seamless design work, often sharing the same fabrics, makes it impossible to distinguish where the costume ends and the puppet begins.

Rounding out the design team is video projection designer Kara Miller. “The video projection in Ocean’s Motion features the story character Sundara and mythical underwater spirits who accompany her on a dance journey to the bottom of the sea,” stated Miller. “I wanted to bring the water to the stage so that the story could be immersed in a dream-like feeling of liquid movement. I also wanted to communicate the heart of the ocean and so some of the underwater shots were filmed across the Pacific in both San Diego and here in Hawai’i."  Miller added, "My co-director, Amy Schiffner, and I both thought featuring the Sundara character as a video projection underwater would be just plain fun for the kids and help transport the family theatre audience on a magical journey."

The production of Ocean’s Motion is made possible with support from the: Waikīkī Aquarium, Hanahau‘oli School, Iona Contemporary Dance Theatre, UH Women’s Campus Club, Student Activity Program Fee Board, the Hung Wo and Elizabeth Lau Ching Foundation, and The Waikīkī Parc Hotel.

Tickets for Ocean’s Motion are available online now at, at outlets, and by phone at 944-2697.  Beginning April 9 purchases may be made at the Kennedy Theatre Box Office Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with extended hours on days of performance.  Prices are $18 regular; $16 seniors, military, UH faculty/staff; $12 students; $10 children through high school (2-17); $5 UHM students with a validated spring 2012 UHM photo ID. Ticket prices include all service fees. Group rates are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or disability access, call the Kennedy Theatre Box Office at 956-7655.


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