Beauvais Ballet. While the lovely name may conjure up images of "Swan Lake," don't expect to find any frilly tutus in Maui's newest dance company. Founder and artistic director Renee Beauvais is all about the here and now: contemporary ballet and modern dance.
Beauvais Ballet is the new evolution of TILT, a contemporary dance company that Beauvais founded when she moved to Maui in 1996.
A professional dancer and choreographer for 12 years who had toured internationally, Beauvais said the move from San Francisco to Haiku initially threw her into "culture shock." But having witnessed firsthand the vibrancy of San Francisco's dance scene, with its plethora of movement styles and philosophies, Beauvais knew the fulfillment that immersion in the arts can bring to a community. She founded TILT to bring more of those opportunities to Maui.
SKY BARNHART photo
The nonprofit company had many triumphs over the years - it was the first in the state to teach dance to youth with developmental disabilities; the first to partner with New York's Dance Film Association; the first to participate in National Dance Week; the first on Maui to present experimental dance performances in the PILOT Performance Project.
But looking back over the last 13 years, Beauvais says, "It was always an uphill battle." Finding adequate funding, qualified dancers and affordable spaces to rent were ongoing challenges. TILT began working as a pick-up company in 2003. "I picked up dancers as I needed them from project to project," Beauvais says. "It's a model that other arts organizations use, but I don't think it's a model that's sustainable."
TILT's crowning performance was also its last. In 2007, Beauvais staged "Off Center" at Seabury Hall and on Oahu. She recruited high-level dancers from as far away as New York, and brought in live musicians to perform onstage with the dancers, collaborating with award-winning composer and pianist David Cutler.
"I love to use contemporary music by living, breathing composers," Beauvais says. The show interwove original music and contemporary dance in artistic and innovative ways (for an example, check out "Night in Amsterdam" on YouTube).
She didn't know the show would be TILT's last. "I thought it would be the shot in the arm we needed," she says, "but the grant money became scarcer and the individual donations went down, even before the blowout of the economy."
After enlisting the help of a business consultant, Beauvais realized it was time to move on. "All good things must come to an end, and my own artistic vision and goals were heading in a new direction," she says.
The new direction is Beauvais Ballet, which aims to be "a nationally recognized world-class dance company that offers live and digital media performances and education in contemporary ballet."
Beauvais is excited about the venture and thrilled by the positive response she received from the community at BB's launch party at Flatbread in July. At the same time, she's realistic about the challenges of starting a new company in the current economy. "For any nonprofit group to be successful, it requires community involvement," she says. "It's a collective effort. If people are not sure Maui needs this type of dance, maybe it's something I can convince them of."
For now, Beauvais is focused on getting BB's infrastructure in place. Ideally, the new company will have a stable of 10 or 11 devoted dancers who are "physically present in the community," she says. She is already working on a dance piece called "Fire Mountain Ballet," which she describes as "a creation story incorporating Hawaiian symbols, images and sound." She is also eager to continue her unique dance program in the public schools using the methods of the National Dance Institute. That's all in addition to her "day job" with the Department of Education.
But when it comes to dance, it's not a question of making time. "To have a complete and fulfilling life, that involves the arts," Beauvais says. "For me, that involves dance."
For more information, contact Beauvais at reneeb@tilt dance.org or visit Beauvais Ballet on Facebook.
Poet and artist Pat Masumoto hosts Aloha Slam, an all-ages poetry slam, at 8 p.m. Friday at Gallerie Ha Ha in Wailuku, following First Friday festivities. When Masumoto competed in the National Poetry Slam last year, she says she went to the "late-nighters" and the youth slams and realized "this is where my heart is." When she got back to Maui, she formed Aloha Slam and has high hopes to take the young poets to a statewide stage. For more information, e-mail Pat@PatMasumoto.com
Maui actors, singers and dancers are invited to audition this Saturday at the Historic Iao Theater for Maui OnStage's 2009-'10 season. The season opens with "The Odd Couple" (already cast), and continues with "Annie," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Godspell" and "The Wedding Singer." Singers will audition from 1 to 3 p.m. and should prepare 32 bars from both a ballad and up-tempo piece, and bring music in the correct key. Non-singers will audition from 3:15 to 5 p.m. and should prepare a one-minute comedic monologue and a dramatic reading/monologue. All auditioners should bring a resume and head shot. To make an appointment or for more information, call 244-8680.
This month's Bare Essential Theater at the Iao Theater is "Strangers on a Train," written by Patricia Highsmith in 1950 and later made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock. In this psychological thriller, two men from very different backgrounds meet on a train - Guy is a successful architect; Bruno a spoiled playboy. As strangers who will never see each other again, they swap wild plans for Bruno to kill Guy's unfaithful wife and Guy to kill Bruno's despised father. What Guy doesn't realize is that Bruno may be taking the conversation all too seriously The free reading takes place at 6:30 p.m. Monday. For information about the BET series, call Maui Onstage at 244-8680.