Honoring and Keeping the Arts Alive
By Maria Karin Walczuk, Arts & Community Editor
On Saturday Sept. 14, Dori Yamada, the associate manager of the UH Hilo Performing Arts Center (UHHPAC), made her directorial debut showcasing the talents of the UH Hilo campus. The one night only spectacle was warmly welcomed with tickets directly funding the Performing Arts Department.
An array of entertainment was presented included dancing, singing, a live band, and short films by the local sketch comedy group Super Genius Momo. Previous graduates, current students and even professors adorned the stage. Songs such as “There’s No Business Like Show Business!” and an eighties workout dance piece had the audience cheering.
An emphasis was placed on honoring not only the talents that have come through UH Hilo but also the elders who have contributed to the university’s educational environment. Yamada spoke of the importance of continuing the legacy that the world of the arts offers. The performance night was also a reminder to encourage high school and university students to consider the artistic possibilities within our own campus.
Yamada, a dancer and choreographer herself, initiated the idea of Legacies: Ho`omau as a way to give back to the university, “by showcasing how much talent has come through the department… and performing with my friends one last time.” A large ensemble cast dedicated their time to attend, some leaving to New York or Los Angeles in the following days.
Yamada was introduced to dance as an adult, and it has become an outlet of deep expression for her, “dance for me is the healthiest way to process (yourself) constructively. Sometimes you start from a negative place, and you have this outlet to express that emotion – and often you are left with a positive, and even beautiful, creation.”
In the past year, the UH Hilo Jazz Ensemble shows have been kicked up a notch or two due to the joined forces of Yamada and Trever Veilleux. Veilleux is a music instructor who conducts the Jazz Ensemble. Combining elements of music, theatre, dance and performance arts, Yamada and Veilleux have proven to provide a unique spin on the arts. Legacies: Ho`omau was no exception thanks to these two creative leaders.
Yamada’s aspirations for UHHPAC are not limited to just this performance. “[We need to] recognize how important it is to keep the arts alive. The show was an opportunity of honoring those who have taught all of us … and the bonds we create.”
Yamada strongly affirms that UH Hilo is a leading location for developing your craft, including your trust in yourself as an artist. The environment here is a creative center, spoke Yamada, a place to believe in one another.
“Those who have talent and are pursuing opportunities outside (in the world) have received enough nurturing to believe in themselves here.” UHHPAC’s intentions are to anchor talent and provide an inclusive environment of growth. Yamada will continue to cultivate a place of imaginative potential and artistry.