Wailuku-grown ADT member Ali Pineo has been working with our team to develop the project; identifying ‘ōlelo from Mary Kawena Pukui's ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings to root the artwork in a sense of place and researching key characteristics that will help infuse Wailuku history and culture into the choreography. (You can view excerpts from a recent project development discussion HERE).
Here, we talk story with Ali, who has assigned her fellow Wailuku Dance Crawl performers with a set of phrases and directives to take with them throughout Wailuku in order to gather inspiration for both choreographed and spontaneous dance, which is currently being workshopped by the group.
ADT: This week, each dancer is working on a solo or duet that will take place at three of the five performance locations. Each dancer will bring a prop into their location to defamiliarize and create a new, distinct memory of the space for the audience. The three props we have chosen are 1) mirrors to represent reflection, water, and the various water pathways of Wailuku, 2) rope and yarn to represent fastening, anchoring, and familial ties, and 3) benches to represent strong foundations and grounding. In terms of atmosphere, dancers will work with sound and movement quality that will bring the mythic, supernatural, fantastical, and extraordinary to the space.
Our main dancer, who will lead the audience from location to location, is working with positive character words that align with the deeply held and complex value of Aloha -- courteous to all, loving and gentle, trustful, wildly curious, clever, well mannered.
One major theme the dancers are keeping in mind as they conduct research in preparation for their solos is “past, present, and future.” They are gathering images and reflecting on their upbringing on Maui in order to approach their space with a mindfulness about how Wailuku is evolving and how we as individuals are involved in that evolution.
ST*BA: Currently, how do you feel this five-phrase piece will celebrate Wailuku's distinct sense of place, history and culture?
ADT: The connective thread of the five locations will be a large glass bowl of water, which the lead dancer will carry and spread throughout the performance. I hope that the juxtaposition of water with the more developed and commercial Wailuku town creates a sharp contrast that prompts audience members to reflect on Wai’s enduring importance to Wailuku, Hawaiian ancestors, and survival (past, present, and future).
Additionally, the dance crawl creates the opportunity for artists and audience members to generate new memories of their encounters with various Wailuku town locations in order to help them discover newness in the familiar.
ST*BA: Why are you excited to be a part of SMALL TOWN * BIG ART?
ADT: My artistic philosophy and choreographic process is centered around sharing. I truly believe that creating art with others who have their own unique style, strengths, and visions elevates the culminating artistic work. While both the process and final product for the Dance Crawl are important, I am excited to be a part of ST*BA because of the connections it fosters within the community. The who is significant -- having just moved back to Wailuku after being away for thirteen years, I have been enriched by the voices and ideas of prominent Kupuna, Wailuku town leaders and business owners, county members, and diverse, passionate artists. I hope that collectively, we can send the message that Wailuku has the opportunity to be shaped into a hub of creativity and the arts, and that its future is bright.
ST*BA: What was a takeaway from your initial meeting with Sissy?
ADT: My greatest takeaway from Sissy was our exchange relating my personally chosen metaphors to Hawaiianness. She stressed that even though we come from different perspectives, we all overlap. For example, she connected the mirror and water to Wai’s importance to Wailuku history -- the Kanaka Hawaii (before missionaries), after missionaries, plantation workers, and now. She also connected the rope to Kaula, meaning to shore up and the bench to lauhala mats, which symbolizes the foundations of who we are and where we come from. Relating over these shared values and interpretations has helped to shape what I hope to be the spirit of the new work -- welcoming people into Wailuku to learn and grow through this performance.
ST*BA: Why does public art matter?
ADT: Public art has the potential to be a mirror of culture, slow us down and reflect, and pull us out of our daily lives. It’s challenging, entertaining, and surprising. It allows for a unique exchange between artists, their work, and diverse audiences. Public art has the ability to capture what has been lost -- the meeting of large groups of people in an acropolis-like setting to learn and exchange new ideas together. It creates a shared experience, bringing people together to unite over something worthwhile. And the list goes on and on…
Stay tuned for further details and registration information at @smalltownbigart + @adaptationsdancetheater + smalltownbig.org/adt.