Moving Performances

Dance productions in full swing on Maui

Copyright 2017 Jack Grace Photography

With performances by Maui Aerial Arts at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku last month, last weekend’s Common Ground Dance Festival, and upcoming appearances by Maui’s Adaptations Dance Theater, Miami’s Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre and New York City’s Ailey II, dance has taken center stage on Maui.

Seabury Hall’s second annual Common Ground Dance Festival was a rich showcase of youth dance at its finest. Director David Ward assembled eight local companies and two from the Mainland in an eclectic blend of classic and modern dance styles. An early enjoyable piece from the program was the Maui Academy of Performing Arts’ “Say Na Say Na,” choreographed by Camille Romero. This spirited Bollywood-influenced number featured Jordan Akana, Lindsey Kimoto, Erin Taketa, Sonechka Alvarado, Sophia Arashiro-Garcia, Hinano Iguchi, Janessa Cajudoy, Keala Robell and Logan Tsukiyama.

Fusion Dance Project’s “Mourning Grave” was extraordinarily sharp and well performed by its Hayward, Calif.-based students Ariana Christensen, Leighanna Huynh-Lee, Bianca Jiminez, Kelly Quiambao, Kaylie Suan and Rayna Trujillo. Act 1 closed with Ward’s resetting of a past Seabury piece, “Graceful Edge,” this time performed by Dance West of Beaverton, Ore. Its dancers, Kevin Bazate Contreras, Nicole Bierwagen, Josh Flood, Olivia Frank, Kennedy Howard, Alicia Lee, Ethan Meyers, Courtney Nunn, Julliet Odell, Nico Pagan, Alexandra Schmidt and Kate Wells fluently mastered this expressive piece.

In the second act, Ward bestowed the festival’s Excellence in Arts Education award to longtime MAPA choreographer Kathleen Schulz. Another festival highlight was the Alexander Academy of Performing Arts’ “Run Together”, choreographed by Hallie Hunt. Both delicate and ethereal, the movement was enhanced by its complementary costumes and color and well executed by dancers Evy Acri, Jessica Bartlett, Madeleine Cochran Welch, Ashley Krost, Lilah Li, Leila Mackinnon and Giulia Salaparuta.

Adding to the further enjoyment of this festival of dance was the exquisite lighting choices by designer and technical director Todd Van Amburgh. The performance finale was the immense “Sing, Sing, Sing” set to the classic Benny Goodman song. The swing-influenced number with Busby Berkeley-reminiscent imagery was choreographed by Julane Stites of Dance West and featured 31 dancers from both Dance West and the Seabury Hall Dance Ensemble.

Copyright 2017 Jack Grace Photography


Three years ago, I interviewed David Sedaris, calling his home in Normandy, France. The price of the phone call was more than I received to write the story, but the hourlong conversation was one of my all-time favorite interviews.

At the time, he shared that before he became a successful writer he had a series of odd jobs including cleaning attics of dead squirrels.

“You have to have a job that is not too taxing,” he said. “You can’t be a lawyer or a high school teacher; it’s too difficult to devote the time required for writing. I preferred jobs that were physically taxing, leaving my mind free for writing. It’s hard to have a sit-down job and then come home and sit down to write.”

Sedaris went on to interview me, asking why I became a writer and what my process was.

Copyright 2017 Jack Grace Photography

“It’s a test of perseverance,” he advised me. “No one has their hand out for you when you get out of school. The reality of it all, is when most writers quit.”

Although Sedaris frequently entertains by reading humorous essays from his books, at his 2014 appearance at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center he shared an encounter that occurred while buying groceries at a Maui Safeway. A cashier asked if he had a Safeway Club Card.

“I don’t have one,” said Sedaris.

“Do you want to sign up?”

“No, thanks,” Sedaris replied.

“Are you a billionaire? Because unless you’re a billionaire you should take the savings,” said the cashier.

“I don’t live in this country and I’ll never use it again,” he said. “There are people waiting, it’s alright.”

Despite his pleading, the cashier won and Sedaris got his Safeway card savings, “about 20 bucks,” he said. After paying, the woman shooed him away with, “Now be gone, I’m done with you.” When Sedaris finished the story, he confessed that he loved her and that the encounter was his favorite Maui memory.

* Humorist David Sedaris, author of best-sellers “Naked,” “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk” and “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” returns to the MACC for an evening of comedic readings followed by a Q&A session and book signing. The performance will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Castle Theater. Tickets range from $32 to $62 (plus applicable fees) and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at


King Kekaulike High School’s current production of “Pillow Talk” is a charming and refreshing alternative to more commonplace youth plays.

Director Chris Kepler greets his crowd announcing that this will be the last advanced acting production in the school’s multipurpose cafetorium, as the multimillion-dollar King Kekaulike Performing Arts Center is scheduled to open on the Pukalani campus this fall.

Fans of the beloved Doris Day and Rock Hudson romantic comedy should appreciate the strong interpretations and tributes by the advanced acting students, as well as the excellent costumes by student costumiers Echo Acri, Puakenikeni Kepler and Caitlin Syva. Nash Ventura, in her first leading role, gives a convincing and strong performance as the single, independent-minded New York interior decorator Jan Morrow. Her stage counterpart, Vince Sotoza, is equally impressive and funny as Brad Allen, the composer and playboy reviled by Morrow.

In another debut in a leading role, Nakota Po is both fearless and bold in his characterization of Jonathan Forbes, Morrow’s would-be wealthy suitor. Po’s over-the-top stage antics and apparent comfort should bode him well if he chooses to pursue college theater.

Accents, an understanding of the 1950s era in which “Pillow Talk” is set and precise comic timing by the cast are a testament to Kepler’s superior work in building a still relatively new school drama program from scratch. Additional impressive comedic performances include Troy Lau as Pierot, Morrow’s fastidious partner, Naia Litman in a small but memorable role as Miss Conrad and Nicole Fatheree as Alma, the meddlesome, feisty French maid.

* King Kekaulike Drama continues “Pillow Talk,” adapted by Christopher Sergel and based on the film by Stanley Shapiro and Maurice Richlin, directed by Chris Kepler. Final performances will be at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the cafetorium on the King Kekaulike High School campus. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and are available at the door 30 minutes before the show.


Rick Scheideman resumes his one-man-show series with performances of “An Evening with Mark Twain,” “An Evening with Albert Einstein,” “The Old Man and the Sea” and an additional short accompanying play, “The Journey of C.S. Lewis.”

* “An Evening with Mark Twain” will be performed at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, with alternating shows continuing Sundays through May 28 at Pioneer Inn courtyard in Lahaina. Courtyard dining is also available. Tickets range from $22 to $30 and may be reserved by calling (303) 507-0987 or purchased at the door.


Miami’s Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre will make its Maui debut presenting two of its most renowned dance pieces, “Cookie’s Kid” and excerpts from “Dining Alone.”

“Cookie’s Kid” is a solo dance theater work that explores inherited muscle memory. “Dining Alone” addresses the inherent drama and comedy attached to food.

* The performance will be at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9 in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului. Tickets range from $35 to $45 (plus applicable fees) and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at


ProArts Inc. presents “The Cemetery Club” by Ivan Menchell, directed by Lee Garrow. This dramatic comedy explores a monthly gathering of four Jewish women at the graves of their husbands interrupted by a would-be suitor for one of the women.

The show stars Sandra Bowes, Anne Jenny, Lina Aiko Krueger, Kristi Scott and Francis Tau’a.

* Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays from Feb. 10 to 26 (no performance Feb. 12) at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei. Tickets are $26 and are available by calling 463-6550 or online at

The celebrated Ailey II dance company of New York, under the direction of Troy Powell, is coming to the MACC.

Started in 1974 as the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, Ailey II embodies Alvin Ailey’s pioneering mission to establish an extended cultural community that provides dance performances, training and community programs for all people. The Maui performance will include the four works from the company’s current repertory, “In & Out,” “Gemeos,” “Something Tangible” and a premiere, “Sketches of Flames”

* The performance will be at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16 in Castle Theater at the MACC. Tickets range from $35 to $65, with half-price tickets available for children 12 and younger (plus applicable fees), and are available at the box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at


Adaptations Dance Theater will present “Whale Song” in partnership with Trilogy Excursions, a sunset cruise that will feature food, drink, whale watching and a dance performance. The event will raise funds for the group’s second annual “Bring it Home” concert event.

* The cruise will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Feb. 18 out of Maalaea Harbor. Admittance is a minimum donation of $99, with reservations and more information available at