Modern and traditional dance meet in "Winter Footholds" at Earle Ernst Lab

Program includes MFA thesis project “Rhythm’s Expression”

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Matthew Kelty, (808) 956-2598
Director of Publicity, Kennedy Theatre
Kennedy Theatre Box Office, (808) 956-7655
Posted: Jan 14, 2014

Rohini Acharya and Mitsuko Horikawa will perform in Kennedy Theatre's "Winter Footholds."
Rohini Acharya and Mitsuko Horikawa will perform in Kennedy Theatre's "Winter Footholds."

The Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is proud to present the first installment of this season’s “Footholds” series, showcasing new choreography by its graduate and undergraduate dance students.  This diverse production brings together student dancers, choreographers, technicians, and designers to create a concert that demonstrates the breadth of the department’s training.  The program will be performed at the Earle Ernst Lab Theatre Jan. 29, 30, 31, and Feb. 1 at 8 p.m., and Feb. 2 at 2 p.m.  A post-show discussion will follow the performance on Friday, Jan. 31.

A highlight of the evening will be “Rhythm’s Expression,” which re-imagines the components of the classical Indian dance style Bharata Natyam.  The piece will serve as the MFA thesis project for Rohini Acharya, who was featured last semester in UHM’s mainstage dance concert “Look Back: Move Forward.”  Reflecting a deeply personal narrative, Acharya’s choreography was inspired by Tirupathi Chandrupatla’s poem “World Dance Stage,” which equates the beauty and grace of nature with the beauty and grace of dance.  Acharya has been performing classical Indian dance for 20 years, and says she is proud to bring these traditions to her work in the department.

Dance BFA student Mitsuko Horikawa will also be featured in the concert, premiering two short pieces that demonstrate her skills as both a dancer and a choreographer.  “Forest Festival” is a driving, rhythmic solo set to taiko drum music.  “The Wild Chase” takes a light-hearted approach, telling a fun and energetic story of cavorting animals that reflects Horikawa’s interest in creating dance for young audiences.  (Please note that while “The Wild Chase” is appropriate for viewers of all ages, some pieces at the concert are more appropriate for mature audiences.)

As always with UHM’s “Footholds” series, diversity takes center stage.  Horikawa’s light and engaging “The Wild Chase” contrasts with Kele Roberts’ “Eve,” which uses dance to explore serious themes of physical and emotional violence.  Some dancers perform to taiko drum or traditional Indian music, while Jenny Mair’s “Voices” will be set to music by Chopin and Vivaldi.  Dance MFA students Mareva Minerbi and Faith Im will present works with music composed especially for their pieces.  Minerbi’s “Night Rain” was created in collaboration with her dancers, and is set to music by Brendan Connelly (who was the Musical Director for last semester’s “Big Love”); and Im’s “Sentiment” was choreographed to a new composition from Art Koshi.

The seven featured pieces demonstrate the department’s dedication to a broad range of work featuring classical and contemporary influences.  “We are constantly astounded by the unique choreographic voices of our students, and the variety of work they produce,” said dance professor Betsy Fisher, who is coordinating and directing the concert (and last semester directed the dance program’s 50th anniversary celebration, “Look Back: Move Forward”).  “Their far-reaching interests and creative curiosity make our jobs as faculty interesting, challenging, and deeply rewarding.”

Tickets for “Winter Footholds” are available online at, by phone at (808) 944-2697, at participating outlets, and at the Kennedy Theatre box office beginning Jan. 13.  The box office is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, with extended hours on performance dates.  Prices are $18 for general admission; $16 for seniors / military / UH faculty and staff; $13 for UHAA members and non-UHM students; and $5 for UHM students with a validated Spring 2014 UHM photo ID.  All service fees are included in ticket prices.  For more information, please visit or call the theatre at (808) 956-7655.  For disability access, please call the theatre.

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