Review: ‘Spring Footholds’ at UH-Manoa

Apr. 24, 2014 | 0 Comments
Devon Izumigawa performs his piece "Blades Over Hearts." (Photo courtesy Chelsey Cannon)

Devon Izumigawa performs his piece “Blades Over Hearts.” (Courtesy Chelsey Cannon)

REVIEW BY CAROL EGAN / Special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Showcasing new choreography by graduate and undergraduate dance students, the “Spring Footholds: Between the Lines” concert begins and ends with large group works of considerable complexity created by seniors in the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Theatre and Dance Department. Between these major pieces are five smaller numbers ranging from solos to a quintet.


» When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; also 2 p.m. Sunday
» Where: Earle Ernst Lab Theatre, 1770 East-West Road
» Cost: $5-$18
» Info: (808) 944-2697,

Davon K. Izumigawa’s “Blades Over Hearts,” the large group work that opens the program, displays the skills of its choreographer in the field of martial arts. Two forces confront each other using weapons such as swords, machetes and long sticks. The contingent in blue worker’s outfits seems the less aggressive of the two while the white-jacketed army is continually on the offensive.

Izumigawa is clearly a student of martial arts as well as some of the classical forms of Asian dance.

As a pleasant contrast to the raucous opening number is Faith Im’s “Still,” a solo danced by the choreographer to Claude Debussy’s lyrical “Reverie,” accompanied by the sound of falling rain.

As strong in her performance as in her choreography, Im begins seated, her back to the audience. She executes a series of torso rolls while anchored to her spot in a pool of light. Just when you begin to fear she’ll never rise, she does just that, fanning one long leg high into the air. Though she plays with certain leitmotifs, she always manages to offer inventive changes of direction along with small isolated flicks of the hands and twists of the arms that continue to surprise and delight. The dance ends as it began, with Im seated on the floor facing upstage in a pool of light. Finally she slowly reclines backward, shoulders only slightly moving as the lights and music fade.

Comedy seems to be a theme of a quintet by Camille Monson and a quartet by Mitsuko Horikawa, presenting a bevy of flapper types and a group of top-hat-wearing gals, respectively.

Dancer/choreographer Lexi Hughes’ “My First Heels,” though amusing, might have made its point better had she been actually wearing heels instead of miming the effect such shoes have on the body.

The mood turns more serious with Lance Sabado’s “3” in which he, as the sole male, alternately dances with three women who are isolated in separate pools of light. While the first partner is romantic, the mood soft and lyrical, the second presents a quite different impression — one of heated passion and violent aggression.

The third is his ideal dance partner, accompanying him with snatches of tangos and foxtrots. In the end, the man is overwhelmed by the three women as he sinks to the ground and they menacingly hover over him.

The question is: Are we seeing three separate women or three aspects of the same one?

Bringing the concert to a close is the powerful “Shaping Ground” choreographed by Chelsea Van Billard. The six uniformly clad dancers execute the complex and challenging dance flawlessly. Changes in direction and level are emphasized, as is the shift from two- to three-dimensional sequences. Several themes are meticulously manipulated and varied so that, although we recognize the material, it appears new and fresh with each change of direction, tempo, level or attack.

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