Contemporary dance on the Big Island will turn 40 this year with several unique performances in three venues — Volcano Art Center, Kalani Honua in Kalapana and Hawaii Museum of Contemporary Art.

This year is the 40th anniversary of Volcano Art Center, and two June events will celebrate VAC’s role in cultivating and supporting the arts and many Big Island artists, especially dance and dancers.

Volcano was the vanguard for modern dance in Hawaii through the late choreographer Earnest T. Morgan, his company, Dance o Hawai‘i, and the Volcano dance retreats, which brought dancers and teachers of international repute to the Big Island during the 1970s and ’80s.

The first VAC event is “Dancing at the Source, Dancing on the Edge: The Birth,” 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 14, at VAC’s Hale Ho‘omana.

This event is a talk-story with architect, photographer and VAC founder Boone Morrison as he shares the living history of the center and the beginnings of the dance program with Earnest Morgan. Members of the original dance company, Trina Nahm-Mijo and Richard Koob, as well as Morgan’s protégé, Kea Kapahua, will share dance excerpts from Morgan’s acclaimed choreography, which mixed modern dance and hula movement.

Morgan and company were mentored by kumu hula ‘Iolani Luahine and Edith Kanaka’ole.

The second offering, “Dancing at the Source, Dancing on the Edge: Branching Out” is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, at Hale Ho‘omana.

This event features the evolution of dance as a social justice and social change tool through the choreography of Trina Nahm-Mijo, former co-coordinator of the Volcano dance retreats. Nahm-Mijo is collaborating with Eric Kupers, a Bay Area dancer and director of Dandelion Dancetheater.

They’ve collaborated on dance performances in Hawaii and the Bay Area for 15 years. Nahm-Mijo and Kupers will share excerpts of a new collaborative work entitled “Lele/Tongues/Gather,” which explores themes of birth, death and spirit.

As part of the 40th anniversary, there will be a flash photo exhibit, featuring iconic images from Volcano dance retreats and Dance o Hawai‘i. In addition to event nights, the exhibit will be open for viewing 10 a.m.-3 p.m. June 16-17.

Admission to each event is $12 general, $10 VAC members with proceeds to benefit VAC. All who attend will receive a free 40th anniversary commemorative poster featuring the photography of Morrison. Space is limited, so reserve a seat by visiting www.volcanoartcenter.org or calling 967-8222.

A free performance of excerpts from “Lele/Tongues/Gather” is slated for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 18, at Kalani Honua Eco-Retreat Center’s EMAX. This performance includes an aerial version of “Lele” choreographed by Annie Bunker and performed by Hawaii Community College students. For more information, call 965-7828.

A full performance of “Lele/Tongues/Gather” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. June 19-21 at the Hawaii Museum of Contemporary Art, formerly East Hawaii Cultrual Center. For these performances, “Lele” will start in Kalakaua Park, featuring the large, ephemereal, natural-dyed silk sculptures of renown fabric artist Akihiko Izukura, and progress into the museum’s upstairs theater, where the performance will take place partially in the round and audience participation is invited.

Seating is limited and advance tickets are $10 general, $8 for East Hawaii Cultural Council and Big Island Dance Council members, and are available at the museum by calling 961-5711 or visiting www.ehcc.org. Door admission is $12 general, $10 EHCC/BIDC.

For more information, contact Trina at nahmmijo@hawaii.edu.

 

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