Why We Dance

A look into the backstage artistic process to create the Dance Collective show which premiered on Sept. 28 and the true purpose behind it

Staff Writer Holly S. Trowbridge
Photo Courtesy of Mirei Sugita

A group of dancers perform onstage

UH Hilo’s third annual Dance Collective concert took place on Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. Folks from all over Hilo gathered in line at the theater to experience the joys the concert brought.

The show kicked off with a humor-inspired piece entitled, “Audition” where dancers were trying out at an audition. Throughout the show, different moments of motion by the dancers evoked various emotions in the audience. In a combination of sadness, joy, and pride, the show succeeded in bringing the house through an emotional rollercoaster, whilst still ending on a high note.

Altogether the show was incredibly done by dedicated choreographers and dancers coming from all over Hilo who worked together to show their unity to the packed house. “I have to say, everybody went above and beyond, I was super impressed. Last year, the first shows were really good, but this year was amazing. Everyone’s doing this for the love and for the purpose of the show, and I really appreciate that,” said Dori Yamada, producer of the Dance Collective and Assistant Theater Manager at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

During the show, there was a video segment with interviews of the various dancers and choreographers. “My dance mantra is I breathe in music, exhale movement. Not that it comes naturally like breathing, but I wouldn’t be the same without it,” stated Zoi Nakamura, dancer and choreographer in the show and student at UH Hilo.

Essentially, the show’s purpose was to “have one night where everyone can be under the same roof, on the same stage, and everybody can see the other people perform,” Yamada continues. The true idea of the show was community and unity. The production took a lot of time, effort, and energy to prepare and put together, and it certainly reared a result.

In terms of preparation, a lot of the choreographers got to work incredibly early, as Jasmine Serrano, a member of the Center Stage Dance Alliance, as well as a choreographer and dancer in the Dance Collective shared.

“I had fourteen months to prepare and I think I decided on the song about ten months before I had to submit which was in August,” said Serrano. “I didn’t really start until the end of June. Once I had all my dancers together, that’s when the choreography started coming together a little bit more.” The main rehearsals for the separate pieces began as early as June and ran through until the final performance.

In response to being asked why they dance, some of the dancers specified what dance means to them. “I love it! I love dancing because it brings me joy and it gives me a way to express who I am when words cannot. Every move that I make allows me to give and to leave a part of myself on the stage. I dance because it’s my life. Dance is life,” said Sarah Dunaway, dancer in the Dance Collective.

“Why do I dance? Basically, I feel worse when I’m not dancing. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into this and there’s a lot more disappointment than satisfaction because you fail more times than you try. I really love when you succeed after trying two hundred times and failing. When you finally get it, it can be so satisfying,” Serrano explicated.

Yamada also shared, “Dance really brings people together in a very different way and so people get very close and it’s very meaningful. I wanted to show that to the audience.”

If one should find themselves hoping to get involved with the Dance Collective: “Come take dance classes! Most of the choreographers here have danced with others in classes. It’s like building friendships. Just join the dance community. There’s a dance department here at UH and a dance department at Hawaiʻi Community College, so just get involved,” said Dunaway.

These dedicated dancers and producer who put their hearts, minds, and souls into their pieces, in addition to the flow from one to the next are responsible for the production being such a success. Altogether the show was a hit, with crowds of people heading to the seats and a sense of the hard work and coordination it took to complete the production as a whole.