Anela Evans in "Kilauea"

Last night I sat in on a rehearsal for the Doris Duke Theatre’s first multicultural dance program—”Duets: Exploring Dance Through Modern, Classical and Cultural Traditions,” which takes the stage April 16 to 18. It’s going to be amazing. Set against a simple luminous white curtain, the pairs of dancers are in high relief—their skill and the choreography highlighted like a moving work of art. The program is produced and directed by Denise Nakano. She’s our Associate Director of Development for Special Events and Programs (she’s the mastermind behind our gala fundraiser Kama‘aina Christmas)—as well as a lifelong dancer. She tries to go to New York every year to train with Kat Wildish, who is on staff at The Ailey Extension and Greg Zane (former Hawaii Ballet Theatre principal).

Desiree A. Seguritan in "Teruna Jaya"

She wanted to bring dance to the Academy, and give Honolulu’s strong and incredibly diverse dance community a place to show off what they do. “All the dancers have trained for years to learn a movement style and vocabulary—some of them centuries old,” says Nakano. “I am thankful to them and their choreographers and teachers for embracing this program and sharing their love of dance with us.”

Denise filling dancers in on the idiosyncracies of the stage

Last night Denise worked with the dancers and Academy staffers Beckie Stocchetti, Cyril Ruthenberg and Willy to map out cues, lighting, entrances and exits. Here’s Cyril and Willy at the light control panel.

Willy and Cyril work out lighting for "Duets"

See the gallery below for an idea of the global program. We’re learning cool stuff from it. Did you know Japan has its own version of “The Lion King”? Yeah, it’s called “Shojiro Renjishi” and is about two lions, a parent and cub, that are messengers for the deity Monju Bosatsu. Onoe Kikunobukazu, a Nihon Buyo master, performs the daddy lion role.