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Hawaiian dance theater's interactive performance connects across cultures

A group of dancers pose. They are wearing traditional Hawaiian clothing.
Greg Noir
Tau Dance Theater
Tau Dance Theater

Tau Dance Theater is the first and only professional dance theater founded by a Hawaiian Native in Honolulu. They visited the Ellen Eccles Theater on Sept. 30 as part of a tour that will take them to New York City’s Lincoln Center this week.

Their program "Indigenuity" is an interactive mash-up of music and dance styles that bring the audience into the world of Hawaiian dance.

The program showcased the ingenuity of Native peoples of both Hawaii and the mainland US.

The members of Tau Dance Theater began their week in Logan, Utah meeting with members of Native tribes in the area for a land recognition ceremony, a key part of their touring routine. They continued to honor those tribes during their performance.

They began the performance with a statement about the land upon which they were performing: “We acknowledge the territories of the eight tribes of Utah. We recognize the elders, past and present, who have carried, cared for and continue to care for the land.”

Tau Dance Theater invited musician Shelly Morningsong of the Northern Cheyenne tribe and dancer Fabian Fontenelle of the Zuni and Omaha tribes to perform with them.

The performance brought Utahns together with local Native communities as well as the Native Hawaiian community. Tau Dance Theater shared aspects of their culture and encouraged the audience to engage by performing familiar favorites with a Hawaiian twist including Never Enough from the Greatest Showman, and a song about Maui, the demigod from the popular Disney movie Moana.

Whether they’re performing at home in Hawaii or traveling across the country, Tau Dance Theater always begins and ends with a warm Aloha.

Anna grew up begging her mom to play music instead of public radio over the car stereo on the way to school. Now, she loves radio and the power of storytelling through sound. While she is happy to report on anything from dance concerts to laughter practice, her main focus at UPR is political reporting. She is studying Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University and wants to work in political communication after she graduates. In her free time, she spends time with her rescue dog Quigley and enjoys rock climbing.