The University of Hawaii at Manoa's Department of Theatre and Dance has put together an unusual dance concert with a big message. "Dancing Green" combines two of concert director Betsy Fisher's passions: dancing and the environment. UH Manoa faculty and guest artists have choreographed a variety of dances with environmental themes that are performed by UH students.
The dances included in "Dancing Green" are from a number of different categories such as hula, modern dance and ballet. Each piece expresses an individual environmental theme through the mediums of dance, music and set design.
One dance that illustrated sustainability to the audience in a very unique way was a contemporary work by Amy Lynn Schiffner that integrated set pieces designed by David Gerke, a graduate student. The creativity of the set design combined with the technique of the dancers produced a remarkable performance.
The set first included three pyramids of assorted bottles that were lit from behind. As the dance progressed, three separate curtain-like structures of cans that were held together vertically by strings were lowered and suspended on the right, left and center of the stage. The curtains were used in the dance as the performers moved among them, lightly touching them to make the lines of cans sway and create a wind-like effect. The dancers then brought out perfectly spherical cellophane structures that were lined in the interior with plastic bottles. These spheres were gracefully incorporated into the dance piece. As it came to a close, hundreds of newspapers drifted down upon the stage. The way the dancers and recycled materials were combined to create an elegant work of art was an effective way to promote sustainability.
The final piece was an assortment of bird dances called "Aviary." The set design included a background of suspended bamboo shoots and leaves. The series of dances in this performance effectively illustrated the avian themes that they encompassed. For example, the hatching from an egg, a white swan, a black swan, a firebird and the extinct o'o bird were some of nature’s creatures that the dancers implemented.
In addition to an environmentally friendly performance, other actions were taken in the interest of going green. The production was a paperless production with no fliers or pamphlets. The program was projected on the right and left hand side of the stage and available afterwards online. Also, the costumes and sets were all made of recycled or organic materials.
The dance production ran March 11-14.
"Dancing Green" was created with the desire for the audience to take away not only an entertaining dancing experience, but also an important message. The vision behind this production is to encourage the community to make the changes necessary for a more positive impact upon the environment, proving that going green can be a beautiful art form in itself.