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  • Vanessa Marenco

Welcome Tau Dance Theater!

Updated: Dec 7, 2020

INDIGENOUS PERFORMANCE PRODUCTIONS IS PLEASED TO INTRODUCE TAU DANCE THEATER


Join us in an enthusiastic welcome to our newest client Tau Dance Theater! Tau Dance Theater (TDT) is the only professional dance/theater company in Honolulu founded by a Native Hawaiian; Executive and Artistic Director, Peter Rockford Espiritu. Behind the deeply cultural and vibrant aesthetics brought to each performance are the enduring facets of Indigeneity: ancestral knowledge, spiritual and cultural awakening, and the respectful evolution of organic pasefika movement. These foundational tenets are woven seamlessly into fusions of Hula, Modern Dance, and Ballet to create the distinctive movement discipline Pōhuli that (TDT) performs. This commitment to Indigenous philosophical and spiritual enrichment through dance has produced a safe and inclusive space to advance cultural competency among students, teachers, performers, and audiences respectfully and responsibly.

Mr. Espiritu founded Tau Dance Theater in 1996. His distinguished background includes the study as a practitioner of Hula from the Ka’imikaua, Hoakalei, Luahine, Holokai and Kanaka’ole traditions. Mr. Espiritu’s western training includes scholarships at the School of American Ballet, American Dance Festival and Colorado Dance Festival. Dancing with New York Theater Ballet, Ralph Lemon and as the lead male with the Dances We Dance Company founded by Betty Jones (Founding member of the Jose’ Limon Company). National and international reach includes serving seven years as Artistic Director of ECHO – Education for Cultural and Historical Organizations; and nearly three decades of teaching, dancing, and choreographing in Japan and later, in Suva, Fiji and the many South Pacific Island countries; adding to Mr. Espiritu’s arsenal of oceanic vocabulary. Pōhuli blossoms as a temporal collision of memory and movement, delivering us both the past, present and future in each and every performance.

Modern dance, as with all art, progresses and transforms with each generation. Since its inception, influences from Indigenous dances worldwide have informed pioneers of modern dance such as Jose Limon, Alvin Ailey, and Lester Horton. Since then, modern dance has returned to these roots, harnessed and nurtured to reemerge in TDT’s productions as a reverent and stunning mixture of histories and cultures that few can properly integrate. Prestigious western form is put to the test as it engages with illustrious styles and techniques practiced since time immemorial. This collaborative and complementary blend is both primordial and innovative, a rich and intoxicating cross-genre union seeking both to enlighten and preserve. In keeping with visionaries such as Alvin Ailey, Mr. Espiritu uses his extensive professional experience to honor his culture and relations by returning to the people what was given through millennia of story and dance, bringing together Indigenous peoples across Oceania in an accessible and enriching art form.

TDT’s upcoming production Indigenuity (regretfully put on hold due to COVID19) is described as:

A journey with Tau exploring the ingenuity of indigenous artists in the here and now. Hawai’i is our land and cultural host as we take an artistic trip into our glorious “Global Village”. Contemporary native based music and dance expressions of indigenous artists from Northern Cheyenne, Zuni/Omaha and Tlingit nations, intermingling with the evolved artistic vision of Tau, brings Oceania to a magical place of MANA. Honoring ancestral knowledge while encouraging responsible evolution, Tau sets the stage for an artistic gift for generations to come.

Featuring guest artists, Shelley Morningsong Fontenelle(Northern Cheyenne) 2019 Artist of the Year Award – Native American Music Awards, Fabian Fontenelle (Zuni/Omaha) 2018 1st Place Traditional Male Dancer Gathering of Nations and native RAP sensation, Arias Hoyle (Tlingit) together with Yuko Anami Ballet & HIT’S Dance Space from Japan all bring their exceptional talents to support Tau’s, vision. Hawaii sensation Pōmaikaʻi Lyman together with Tau Dance Theater and TAU Y2 weave this fabulous production into a once in a lifetime experience! Behold, INDIGENUITY!


Past performances such as the 2019 Ho’ina concert can be seen on TDT’s website taudance.org. Mr. Espiritu’s latest collaboration tests his skills as dramaturg for the Vancouver, BC, Canada based indigenous dance company, Dancers of Damelahamid’s 2019 production of MINOWÍN, making its debut at the Mòshkamo, Indigenous Arts Rising Festival before embarking on a world tour. In addition to these productions, Tau Dance Theater offers Tau Y2, the youth company of TDT for dancers ages 10-17, as well as open youth classes on Hula in the tradition of Hula Masters such as George Kananiokeakua Holokai, combined with classes in modern dance Limón technique taught by Mr. Espiritu himself.

We are excited to embark on this journey with such a diverse range of talent and are eager to see the potential this relationship brings unfold. As stakeholders in the Indigenous performing arts community, our responsibility is to support and showcase our clients in the safest and most effective ways possible. We are looking forward to having conversations about future touring of Tau Dance Theater - multiple, high quality video work samples are available!


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