Tau Dance Theater's Poliahu – One Night Only
A Web Exclusive
After taking the night of March 18 off to celebrate their 15th anniversary with a “Crystal Ball” party, the performers of Tau Dance are back in the studio. With only days to go, the dancers are hard at work rehearsing for the Honolulu premiere of Poliahu: Goddess of Mauna Kea, the vibrantly colored brainchild of Tau’s artistic director, Peter Rockford Espiritu. Under Espiritu’s guidance, Tau breathes life into the legend of Hawaii’s four snow goddesses: Lilinoe, Waiau, Koaeakolea and, of course Poliahu, often said to be the most beautiful.
Though the tales presented in this show come directly from traditional Hawaiian lore, this is no touristy luau. As with his previous two Hawaiian operas (Hanau Ka Moku: An Island is Born and Naupaka: A Hawaiian Love Story), Espiritu’s combination of traditional and contemporary dance styles reflects his own experience as an indigenous Hawaiian choreographer who regularly works with native Alaskan groups. His interpretation of Poliahu’s life consists of equal parts old and new, serious and sweet. The result is a perfect cocktail of ancient musical instruments, ballet and modern dance, infused with traditional hula, mele (song) and oli (chant), Yupik Eskimo songs, drumming and dance and Mongolian poetic storytelling.
The performers themselves, of course, add another vital component. Though rehearsals come second to their day jobs, the cast members are trained professionals. They treat practice as they would a real performance, performing their on-stage roles to the fullest extent of their abilities. Whether they are rehearsing in their elaborate, colorful costumes, or in street clothes, the dancers stay in character until the moment they walk out the doors several hours later. The performance opens this weekend.
March 27, $13, $38, $43, Hawaii Theatre Center, 1130 Bethel St., 528-0506, hawaiitheatre.com.