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Onstage Dance Company: ‘By community, for community’

Jessica Dungans Barton is one of the choreographers participating in Onstage Dance Company’s 2nd annual Dance Revue at Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. Performances begin Jan 10. JACK GRACE photo

Two years ago, local dancers and choreographers Erin Kowalick and Dejah Padon teamed up to create a new type of Maui dance company. Produced by Maui OnStage, OnStage Dance Company decided to debut at the 2019 Maui Fringe Theater Festival. The second annual revue, this time a full-length production with three performances, opens next weekend at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku.

What makes OSDC unique is that it’s an all-inclusive dance company, as well as a free program for dancers. All that is required is a lot of time and the dancers must be age 16 or older and a willingness to work hard. Their oldest member is 72, and the levels of dance experience ranges from beginner to professional. OSDC also features a variety of choreographers with various backgrounds, seven in total this year. They include Kowalick, Padon, Jaidah Gertrude, Felicia Chernicki-Wulf, Erin McCargar, Rachel Lockhart and Jessica Dungans Barton. Embracing this mission to create a space for adults who share the love of dance, regardless of age or ability, the revue will showcase a variety of styles such as tap, jazz, modern, ballet, musical theater, contemporary and lyrical.

Kowalick and Padon met through during the 2016 Maui OnStage production of “Guys and Dolls.” They quickly realized their passion for dance and the lack of opportunities on Maui for non-professional adults to choreograph and perform. That conversation led to the development of OSDC, which they describe as “by community, for community.”

Next weekend’s revue has been in the planning stages for a year. Open auditions were held in August and the original choreography began in September. The troupe started early in order to work around adult working schedules, which Kowalick and Padon described as “very challenging at times,” and they’ve been working as often as possible ever since. Dancers were able to commit at various levels. Again, allowing for all in the community to participate in some way. Some dancers are in one number while others perform in all of them. In making it easy to participate with OSDC, Kowalick and Padon were able to enlist 39 volunteer dancers to commit to the process of learning 19 numbers in four months.

I asked if they had a favorite piece. “All the pieces are unique and provide something special for the performance. The guest choreographers have created some wonderful pieces,” shared Kowalick. “The opening number and closing numbers, co-choreographed by Dejah and myself, are probably our favorites, in that it incorporates several dance styles, and almost the entire cast. They are both extremely fun and upbeat and I think audiences will be impressed,” she added.

Pauly Shore will present an evening of comedy Friday at Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku at 7:30 p.m. Joining Shore on the bill are Justine Smith and Ted Anderson. HOLLY PARKER photo

Padon expressed why the audience community should support OSDC. “People should attend because it is something different. The show is fun, fast-paced and has something for everyone. It is also a great way to support our community of dancers and choreographers who are grateful for this opportunity to do something they love and are passionate about.” 

* OnStage Dance Company presents their 2nd annual Dance Revue. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10 through 12 at The Historic Iao Theater. Tickets range from $25 to $30. To purchase tickets for any Iao Theater event call 242-6969 or order online at mauionstage.com.

THIS WEEK

Catch a night of comedy with actor and comedian Pauly Shore. At 17, Shore began writing and performing his own material creating the persona of “The Weizel,” a character that appealed to young audiences and quickly brought him fame as an MTV VJ in the 1990s, before taking the “Weizel” to feature films like “Encino Man,” “In the Army Now” and “Bio-Dome.”

In 2003, Pauly produced, wrote, directed and starred in the critically acclaimed “Pauly Shore Is Dead,” a semi-autobiographical mockumentary in which he satirized the perils of Hollywood. Born into a comedy family, his father was comedian Sammy Shore, and his mother Mitzi Shore ran Hollywood’s legendary Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip. Joining Shore on the bill are Justine Smith and Ted Anderson. Performance at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 4 at The Historic Iao Theater. Tickets range from $40.50 to $49.50. To purchase tickets for any Iao Theater event call 242-6969 or order online at mauionstage.com. This performance contains adult content and may not appropriate for children.

UPCOMING

ProArts presents the Hawaii premier of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” by Simon Stephens, based on the novel by Mark Haddon, directed by Mark Collmer. This critically acclaimed play received seven Olivier and five Tony Awards in 2015. It’s seven minutes after midnight and teenage Christopher stands beside his neighbor’s dead dog. It has been speared with a pitchfork and he is the primary suspect. Exceptionally smart but mentally challenged, Christopher’s detective work takes him on an extraordinary journey. Seeing the world through his eyes, this thrilling, heartwarming, uplifting and modern adventure story challenges assumed truths and reveals life-changing secrets. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, starting Friday, Jan. 10 through 26 at ProArts Playhouse. Tickets are $26. For more information or to purchase tickets for any ProArts event call 463-6550 or visit www.proartsmaui.com.

Join Ari Shaffir for a night of comedy. Stand-up comedian, podcaster and actor, Shaffir describes his comedy as a puppet show, except it’s much filthier and without the puppets. The New York native grew up Orthodox Jewish, spent two years in a yeshiva in Israel, and came back to America to lose his religion and become a comic. The star of two Netflix specials, “Double Negative,” self-described as his version of a “Smashing Pumpkins Double Album,” Shaffir also hosts the podcast “Skeptic Tank,” a weekly interview show where he chats with everyone from parents to comedians to prostitutes, and is consistently among the top-rated podcasts on iTunes. He has released two stand-up specials on Comedy Central, and he continues to perform stand up to sold-out crowds nationwide. Joining Shore on the bill is opening guest Chino LaForge. The performance is at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17 in McCoy Studio Theater at MACC. Tickets are $41 (plus applicable fees). To purchase tickets for any MACC event visit the MACC box office, call 242-7469 or order online at www.mauiarts.org. This performance contains adult content and is not appropriate for children.

Maui OnStage and Surf Rents Trucks presents the Maui Fringe Theater Festival 2020. This weekend marathon of the performing arts features local and mainland actors, dancers, singers and playwrights from Jan. 23 through 26 at the Historic Iao Theater. The original 60-minute, one-act plays in performance at the 10th annual Fringe are “Chemo Barbie” by Heather Keller, “Cave Girl the Musical” by Glennis McCarthy, “He Wants To Run” by David Kleinberg, “How Can I Help?” by Victoria McGee, “Maui Belly Dance Company” and “My Name Is Mommy” by April Wish. Tickets are $15 per show with a limited number of $75 VIP passes available by phone only at 242-6969. All-festival passes include admission to all of the performances, a catered opening-night party and the closing night awards ceremony. For the complete Maui Fringe schedule, visit mauionstage.com. The Maui Fringe Theater Festival contains adult content and may not appropriate for children.

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