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Dance concert bringing home artists with Maui ties

By Staff | Jun 22, 2017

All the dances for "Bring it Home" are choreographed on Maui, with the majority crafted in the three weeks prior to the performance.

MAKAWAO – The professional contemporary dance company Adaptations Dance Theater (ADT) will present its annual dance concert, “Bring it Home,” on June 23-24 at Seabury Hall’s ‘A’ali’ikuhonua Creative Arts Center.

ADT’s signature summer performance features a cast of local and guest artists – all with ties to Maui – that demonstrates the island’s homegrown talent in contemporary dance and the transformative impact that professional dance theater can have on the greater arts community on Maui.

Dance studios across the island instruct hundreds of youth in the art of dance from toddlers to teens. The impressive skill level many of these dancers reach is easily witnessed at the various school recitals held each spring.

As it happens with many of Maui’s young people, however, the void of local opportunities to pursue a career in dance after high school graduation forces the most motivated and promising dancers to have to choose between their home and their professional future.

“Bring it Home” guest artist Ali McKeon is a prime example of this phenomenon. McKeon grew up dancing at Maui Academy of Performing Arts (MAPA), and upon graduating from Baldwin High School, received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees at Stanford University and University of California, Irvine, respectively. While in school, she was able to continue her dance training, which led her to a position with Menlowe Ballet in California. McKeon also founded her own dance company, Ali McKeon Dance Project (AMDP), based in the Bay Area.

ADT strives to bring home successful Maui artists like McKeon with a viable professional opportunity to share her craft with the community that raised her. Having been invited as a featured guest artist for the inaugural concert last year, McKeon returns this year as a guest choreographer as well as performer.

“I am thrilled that ADT is thriving and providing opportunities for artists like myself, who feel such a strong pull to the islands, to share our professional creative voices here,” said McKeon. “Maui continues to be a main source of inspiration for my personal and artistic growth within the dance field, and so to premiere a new work on this company is extremely gratifying as well as a powerful career milestone.”

Beyond providing a professional home for Maui’s dancers, “Bring it Home” also creates an outlet through which the Maui community can regularly experience world-renowned dance.

Joining McKeon as a guest choreographer is Nathaniel Hunt, a hanai son of the Maui dance community. Over the years, Hunt has created a bond with Maui’s dance schools as a performer, mentor and guest teacher. Originally hailing from the East Coast, Hunt has traveled across the globe as a company member of Alvin Ailey II and is currently dancing with New York’s Ballet Hispnico.

Setting original work on the 2017 “Bring it Home” cast is the natural progression of Hunt’s increased affiliation with Maui and ADT, having participated as a guest artist in the 2016 show.

“It has been a complete honor to return to Maui and create new material on these diverse set of dancers,” said Hunt. “Every day, my own creativity blossoms, the dancers challenge their own capabilities and my relationship with these beautiful artists and this island deepens. From my years working and traveling in the professional dance world, there is truly nothing like Adaptations Dance Theater.”

Works by ADT resident choreographers Amelia Couture and Hallie Hunt will round out the 2017 “Bring it Home” program.

“These pieces were very much made on the cast,” reflected Nathaniel. “Without these dancers present and working with the material we have given them, it would be totally different choreography. The piece is communal and stemming from the individual passion, heart and uniqueness of the dancers.”

Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the 2017 cast lineup is the presence of two recently graduated seniors: Ashley Krost and Emily McKeon, Ali’s younger sister. Both have grown up dancing at their respective studios, Alexander Academy of Performing Arts and MAPA, and both will be furthering their dance education at Mainland colleges in the fall.

It may sound like a similar trajectory as the elder McKeon, but with one key difference: both dancers know they have a working opportunity with ADT when they come home.

In fact, both have already benefited from ADT’s presence on Maui. Emily also performed in the 2016 show, and Krost has been an ADT apprentice for the past three years.

“When I look back on my experience with ADT, I am blown away from how much I have learned as an apprentice and a performer,” said Krost. “Not only did ADT have an enormous impact on my dancing, but I also learned a lot about marketing and what it takes to run a dance company. It is amazing to know that there is a place to come home to in the future as a dancer.”

“Bring it Home” audience members will be actively supporting ADT’s mission through their attendance. Opening night on Friday, June 23, includes a lively reception beginning at 5:30 p.m. with complimentary refreshments, pupus, and music. The performance begins at 7 p.m., and attendees will have the opportunity to mingle with the artists at the after party. Saturday, June 24, will feature the performance only starting at 7 p.m.

Opening night tickets are $55; attendees must be 21 and older. The Saturday performance is $25 for adults and $15 for keiki 12 and under. Tickets and information on other Adaptations Dance Theater programs can be found at www.adaptationsdancetheater.com.