Choreographer Morgan danced hula as a child in California, far from his family’s Native Hawaii. As Morgan developed a body of work in modern dance, said to be “charming and poignant” by The New York Times, he longed to connect his Native Hawaiian artistic and personal roots to his contemporary work. Pōhaku is a dance theater piece bringing together storytelling, hula, modern dance, classical music, and projection design to explore compelling universal themes in the story of Hawaii’s native people, including land loss and fractured identity. The work incorporates Morgan’s own stories to reflect these larger themes.
The Hawaiian word for stone, Pōhaku is partly inspired by Morgan’s late cousin, Kumu Hula (hula master) John Kaimikaua (1957-2006). This evening length solo dance performed by Morgan, features live music by Kumu Hula Elsie Kaleihulukea Ryder of Kaimikaua’s Hālau Hula o Kukunaokalā, and classically trained electric cellist Wytold. Collaborators also include projection designer Sareen Hairabedian, scenery by Kapa maker Dalani Tanahy, lighting and technical direction by Brian S. Allard, and rehearsal direction by Tiffanie Carson.
"When I first began making work, I never would have imagined the hula I danced briefly as a young child would resurface in my work as a contemporary choreographer. Pōhaku is my first work integrating mele (music) and hula with my western practices. The nearly 10-year creative research and personal journey that this work led me on was far deeper and richer than anything I could have ever dreamed. It began a process of re-indigenizing my artistic practices, embracing and integrating my multiple racial and ethnic identities, learning more about my native culture, while connecting me to broader communities of native artists and adding new foci to my advocacy work. I have a new found awareness of the influences hula has had on my movement vocabulary and artistic values. Touring Pōhaku to over 12 venues across the United States has highlighted for me a unique opportunity I have to share my Hawaiian culture with audiences that often know little of our people and history, and given me a new role in the field."
-Christopher K. Morgan
Pōhaku Tour Dates
Washington, DC - March 19 & 20, 2016
Moloka’i, HI - April 12, 2016
Maui, HI - April 14, 2016
San Francisco, CA - June 3, 2016
Honolulu, HI - October 21, 2016
Waimea, HI - October 23, 2016
Hilo, HI - October 26, 2016
St. Paul, MN - March 4, 2017
Chatham, NY - September 2 & 3, 2017
Chicago, IL - August 15 & 16, 2018
Swarthmore, PA - March 22, 2019
Pōhaku was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Production residency funded by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Pōhaku is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by Maui Arts & Cultural Center in partnership with Dance Place and NPN. For more information: npnweb.org