Big Island to Big Apple
One of Hawaii's most successful contemporary dancers, Eddie Taketa, talks about his big break.
By Lavonne Leong
Courtesy of Doug Varone and dancers
More than two decades ago, Taketa was a student at UH Manoa and three semesters into an engineering degree. But "it wasn't working," says Taketa. Another nice Japanese boy might have soldiered on and saved the mid-life crisis for later, but Taketa took a semester to explore other options. "At first I went into computer science. But I also took some dance classes," says Taketa, with a gleam in his voice, "and that's where it all started."
The Big Island kid who grew up surfing Honolii had found contemporary dance—and dance found him. A UH class given by a visiting artist ended with an invitation to
"After all the different companies I've performed with, I've found a real home working with Doug," he says. "The work is so instinctive and intuitive, and I've certainly run my life that way—which can be reckless, but at the same time I think it's very honest."
In an art form that has sometimes been criticized as cryptic or distant, Varone's expressive work has delighted critics nationwide by reaching out to its audience with a blend of physical daring and instantly recognizable human situations.
Taketa says, "What we do in our work, we're trying to bridge the gap [between dancers and audience]. If the dance is very sincere, if the performer dances from a place of integrity, there's a kind of space where we meet in the middle."