Art exhibit celebrates the dance programs at UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College

The photo exhibit celebrates the 40th anniversary of the birth of the dance program at UH Hilo and the 22nd anniversary of the dance program at Hawai‘i CC. The exhibit will be displayed at the UH Hilo Campus Center through Feb. 12.

Hawai‘i Community College and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo are celebrating decades of dance at the two campuses with an art exhibit that offers a glimpse into the past and provides inspiration for the future.

The exhibit, titled Dance 40/22: The Legacy Continues, is on display at UH Hilo’s upstairs gallery located in Campus Center 301. The photo exhibit celebrates the 40th anniversary of the birth of the dance program at UH Hilo and the 22nd anniversary of the dance program at Hawai‘i CC.

Dance 40/22 opened on Jan. 12 with a performance by Trina Nahm-Mijo with guest artists Kumu Hula Manaiakalani Kālua, classical singer Kim Nagy, and celloist Anna Callner. Other dance faculty performing were Kea Kapahua and Annie Bunker.  The exhibit will be displayed through Feb. 12.

Two dancers holding palm leaves.
Faculty Trina Nahm-Mijo and Manaiakalani Kalua perform at the art exhibit opening.

Forty years ago, in 1974, there was a burgeoning of the arts on Hawai‘i Island, which coincided with the beginning of the Volcano Arts Center and the creative inspiration that the Volcano environment provided for artists. During this period, other centers for culture and the arts sprang up, such as the East Hawai’i Cultural Center and Kalani Honua Eco-Retreat Center in Kalapana.

“The community thirst for dance training and expression spilled into the growing college campus community, and it was not unusual to find classes of 60 or more students packed into the UH Hilo Old Gym located on Kapiolani Street,” say organizers in a news release. “A timely occurrence for the 40th anniversary of the dance program is that this place of sweat, tears, and joy is scheduled for renovation in spring 2015.”

Corner of framed photo with dancing figures.
One of the photos from the exhibit.

In honor of these milestones, Dance 40/22 presents iconic photos and newspaper articles from the 1970s and 1980s. The historical exhibit is a tribute to the founder of modern dance in the state of Hawai‘i as well as founder of the dance program at UH Hilo, Earnest T. Morgan (1947-1992). Morgan and Trina Nahm-Mijo, founder of the dance program at Hawai‘i CC, started the first modern dance company in the state of Hawai‘i called “Dance O Hawai‘i” as well as coordinated summer dance retreats in the creative environment of Volcano for many years.

Currently, a full spectrum of dance classes in ballet, modern, jazz, aerial, Pilates, dance education, choreography, and dance ensemble are offered either at UH Hilo or Hawai‘i CC by talented and dedicated faculty members Celeste Staton, Kapahua, and Bunker. They are continuing the legacy of quality and impassioned dance that fuels the lives of many students and the community. At the end of every semester the ever popular and usually sold out “Great Leaps” Dance Concert is presented at the UH Hilo’s Performing Arts Center, showcasing the students who take these classes.

Solo female hula dancer in black dress.
Kea Kapahua, a UH Hilo faculty member, performs during the opening of the exhibit.

“In celebrating the longevity of these dance programs, we celebrate the importance of the art form as it connects humans to their source, their environment, and the spirit of innovation, which is the driving force of contemporary dance,” say organizers in the news release. “In these days of shrinking funding for the arts and a public stampede towards technology, it is important to remember the beauty and the power expressed though the human body as a part of nature.”

For more information, email Trina Nahm-Mijo at: or call: 934-2574.

UH System news release