Do It: Shen Yun, Cinco de Mayo, more
WEDNESDAY, MAY 8-SATURDAY, MAY 11
Fiery excitement comes to the Polynesian Cultural Center
If you want to see a “hot” show, head on out to Laie for the 21st Annual World Fireknife Championships, at the Polynesian Cultural Center in the next few days.
The spectacular show offers plenty of excitement, as the contestants dance with the fiery machetes, often tossing them high in the air, passing them between their legs or behind their back. Most of the advanced competitors use more than one knife.
The fire dance originated as a warrior dance in Samoa in which warriors danced with knives called “nifo otu.” Depending on how it is translated, that means either “tooth of death” or “cutting tooth.” As if that isn’t intimidating enough, a performer named Freddie Letuli added fire to the act in the 1940s.
The competition opens with preliminary competition on Wednesday, with the semifinals, juniors and group competitions on Thursday. The senior division finals will be held May 10 and 11 during the intermission of “Ha: Breath of Life,” PCC’s stage show. Admission to the show is required to see the finals.
Where: Polynesian Cultural Center, 55-370 Kamehameha Highway, Laie
When: 7:45 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 7:30 p.m. May 10-11
Cost: $10 Wednesday-Thursday; May 10-11 finals require tickets to “Ha: Breath of Life,” starting at $45 (kamaaina rates available).
Info: Polynesia.com or 293-3333
FRIDAY-SUNDAY, MAY 3-5
Chinese troupe returns with a new production
Shen Yun, a New York-based performance troupe that promotes Chinese culture through music and dance, returns to the Blaisdell Concert Hall this weekend.
The group’s performances feature a mixture of acrobatics, tumbling and martial arts moves, as well as movements similar to Western ballet, all tightly choreographed to music performed by an orchestra comprising Western and Chinese instruments.
The dances often refer to traditional Chinese legends, such as the story of Mulan.
“It’s about reviving 5,000 years of Chinese culture that has been undermined in modern China,” said Hong Jiang, a spokesman for the company. The Falun Dafa Association, which sponsors the touring company, has been at odds with the modern communist Chinese government, as Hong Jiang’s statement hints, and the association’s activities have been banned in mainland China.
Politics notwithstanding, the shows have been praised by observers for spectacular costuming, beautiful sets and athletic, graceful dancing.
Shen Yun has performed here the past six years, but this is a new show, Jiang said. “It has new stories, a new music score. It is a huge production. That’s because they want to present the grandeur of Chinese civilization.”
Where: Blaisdell Concert Hall
When: 7:30 p.m. today, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Info: ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000
SATURDAY, MAY 4
Latin community celebrates culture at annual festival
Celebrate Mexican independence and Hawaii’s Latin cultures at the annual Cinco de Mayo Hispanic Street Festival in Chinatown on Saturday, with a variety of entertainment from the traditional to the contemporary.
The celebration pays tribute to the islands’ diverse Hispanic population, which numbers about 120,000 people from more than 22 nations.
A stage will be set up at the intersection of Hotel Street and Nuuanu Avenue, featuring performers including the Santana Tribute Band, Latin band Son Caribe and dance groups Ballet Folklorico de Mexico and Epica Latin Dance Company. The Mariachi Loco band will stroll the streets performing popular folk tunes.
Also on hand will be an appearance by the “Alma Latina” radio show, the longest-running Hispanic radio show in Hawaii, and deejays from KTUH.
Hispanic street culture will be on display in the form of dozens of cyclists from 808 Lowriders’ Pride, a group of enthusiasts who trick out their bikes and ride them en masse through Waikiki. The lowriders will park their bikes on Hotel Street, while the Latin American Motorcycle Club will have 11 souped-up bikes on display on King Street.
Activities for kids include a keiki corner, prizes, pinatas and face painting, and for those able to stay out later, seven nightclubs will host an after-party with live music or DJs, with one $10 admission applicable to all clubs. The party begins at 10 p.m.
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Cost: Free; get $10 tickets for the nightclub after-party from flavorus.com or call 855-235-2867.
MONDAY, MAY 6
Chamber Music program will feature harpist Uejio
The harp, that most ethereal of instruments, takes center stage in Chamber Music Hawaii’s next program. Constance Uejio, pictured, principal harpist with the Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra, will join CMH’s string and wind players in a wide-ranging program of chamber music.
The major work will be Ravel’s “Introduction and Allegro,” for harp, string quartet, flute and clarinet. Lest one think that classical music starts out with high artistic purpose in mind, this piece actually originated as a kind of marketing tool, Uejio said.
As the story goes, Debussy composed a piece, “Sacred and Profane Dances,” which was commissioned by a company that made pianos and harps.
“The Erard piano and harp company decided that they weren’t going to be outdone by Debussy, so they commissioned Ravel to write a chamber piece for harp,” Uejio said.
“His purpose was to show off the harp so that this Erard harp and piano company would sell instruments.”
The result was a piece that shows off all the harp’s wonderful qualities.
“Ravel used a lot of the different techniques that made it interesting, that showed off all the harp,” Uejio said, mentioning arpeggios, harmonics, fancy fingerwork and especially glissandos. “He uses the full length of the harp, from the lowest string to the highest string. That’s always interesting, too, because oftentimes the music is written just around the middle area.”
The program includes works by Johann Backofen, Albert Roussel, Jean Francaix and Ottorino Respighi. Most of them are new to Uejio and to Chamber Music Hawaii. “We’re all starting from scratch here,” Uejio noted.
Where: Doris Duke Theatre
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday
Info: www.chambermusichawaii.org or 489-5038
Note: The program repeats at Paliku Theatre at Windward Community College, at 7:30 p.m. May 13.
– Steven Mark
» Join ManoaDNA in support of the Waialua High School robotics teams at a luau fundraiser, 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Dole Plantation. $40. 637-8200