Letters From the Road: Hawai'i

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by Eric Williams

Sun, Feb 22

After completing a wonderful three day run of Pavement in San Francisco we departed today for Hawaii. The last of our 3 flights arrived on the big island just after sunset, serendipitously welcoming we weary travelers in time for rest. Some of my companions have been on tour for the better part of the year so far, and even part of last. Still there is a warm glow here, and it’s not just the volcanoes. People are warm and welcoming and we’re as eager to learn more about them as we are to soak up some of the sun.

Mon, Feb 23

Today most of the company has a chance to rest and enjoy their time away from the cold that seems to be settling everywhere back on the continent (sorry friends back home, we’re sending as much sun and good vibes as we can!). Hilo is a nice town with just enough resorts and lots of local culture. There are some truly beautiful landscapes around our hotel. It’s easy to just enjoy the view and meet people; there’s no dearth of recommendations for local faire. In the afternoon Jeremy teaches a masterclass at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The students are from the university and a few local studios and welcome Jae full-heartedly, diving into the material and embracing the aesthetic. Their cheer is infectious and we end the day looking forward to sharing more with the people we’re meeting.

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Tues Feb 24

Today is our first performance in Hawaii and we’re wondering what sort of audience we will draw and how we might be received. The performance is astounding! Despite our dancer-aches-and-bruises and a pinch of jet-lag there is unity onstage that is echoed by the audience. Not only have they packed the University’s Performing Arts Center, but they grace us with a standing ovation and give us each lei wreaths after bows. Talking with patrons afterward confirms what we have felt: the people here in Hawaii are as excited to engage in dialogue with us as we are with them.

Wed Feb 25

Our schedule often has us on the road once we’ve adjusted and today we travel to Waimea. Our trip takes us up the coast and inland. The scenery is amazing and our navigator (…me…) has difficulty paying attention to the map when another beautiful landscape waits around every bend!

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Once in Waimea Tamisha teaches a masterclass for some of the local dance students onstage. These dancers’ roots are varied: African, Modern, Indian, Ballet and even one B-boy. They have the perfect ingredients for the postmodern gumbo soup Tamisha throws them into. And what a soup it is! She doesn’t hold back and the students are pushed to their limits.

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After class the company is graciously invited to the house of the parents of Stephanie Tooman, a former teacher of Kyle and Tamisha’s. Vivian and Rob Tooman provide a wonderful meal, but the conversations we share are particularly nourishing. We leave feeling lucky to be part of larger family, one that has welcomed is with open arms here in Hawaii.

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Thurs, Feb 26

Today is performance #2 of our tour here and there is a mindfulness in the air; our bodies are our instruments and we do our best to keep them tuned and harmonized with one another. The consideration works, because the show is a resounding success. The audiences’ energy is palpable; they’re feeding off our vibe and returning it in-kind. We’re received in the lobby by patrons hungry to know more about us and the work. We’re invited out to a local spot and conversations about art, culture, and life in Hawaii and on the road abound. It continues to humble me how eager people are to learn and share here.

Fri, Feb 27

Back on the road it is! Today we fly to Maui. It’s an early start, but the traveling is easy. The plane goes up, the plane comes down, the drive across the island is brief, and driver is quite the character, filling us in on his knowledge of the island and bidding us farewell as if we were family. In Kaanapali the sun is bright and the beaches inviting. But there’s only a little time to soak it up before Matthew is off to teach another master class at the Maui Arts and Culture Center. It’s an interesting group, with a few young dancers, a few older professionals, and a few groovy folks who just wanted to know what we’re about. They take to task with open hearts and we return the warmth we’ve been feeling on these beautiful islands.

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Sat, Feb 28

It’s hard to tear ourselves away from beaches today. News of the weather back on the continent and our impending departure has us appreciating the opportunities at hand. Many company members head out early to catch a glimpse of the whales; their migration has brought them here much like our own wayward spirits. When the hour arrives we depart for MACC knowing that this performance will be quite special. This is Maleek Washington and Winston Dynamite Brown’s last performance of Pavement with us. It is a profound show and each moment seems to slip through my fingers before I can give it the consideration I’d like. In a bat of my eye the final bow has arrived. All I know is that it was a beautiful experience to have shared with colleague and audience alike. Having the opportunity to share the stage with these brilliant performers has been an honor.

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Sun, Mar 1

Packing, last minute brunch, departures. Could it be over so soon? Some of the company has left for Seattle to join the cast of When the Wolves Came In. My feet carry me along a hiking path, but my mind dwells on the experiences on and off stage we’ve shared, the people we’ve shared them with, and the things we sought to express. How lucky we are to know the people that come into our lives and the things we learn from them. I hope to carry these things with me on the journey back and beyond.