"Supernature" a site specific work at "The Point" by Wai Company Dance Theater
Interview with Artistic Director Wailana Simcock
Many people at Kalani Retreat Center love "The Point."
The Point is known as a powerful site where you have an 180 degree view of the ocean and also of the lava flow in the distance.
Most people here at Kalani have stories about The Point being a symbolic place for them--sometimes they've invited all their friends there for a party, sometimes they've used it for an individual ritual like prayer or meditation. The Point is definitely a special place, and on Saturday March 19th, 5:30pm there will be a performance out at The Point with dancers and actors from both the Puna community and Kalani. This performance called "Supernature," is inspired by the Point itself and the epic story of Hi'iakaikapoliopele. It will be performed by the grass roots troupe, Wai Company with founder and Artistic Director Wailana Simcock, who is also part of the Kalani staff.
Here is an interview with Wailana about performing at The Point.
NR: People that visit Kalani love "The Point." So you're doing a performance at The Point called "site-specific." Sounds like fun, can you explain "site-specific" for us?
Wailana: Site-specific simply implies that the actual site of the work being performed is pertinent to the piece/art. I have worked with choreographers who have taken this idea to the hilt. Like when I danced with Pearl Ubungen in San Francisco 1993, we danced at a pit where once stood a building, The I-Hotel, which housed the first wave of Filipino Immigrants to the US and where in 1973 they were cruelly displaced. A human barricade that was 5 man deep awaited the cops at 5 am in the morning of their wrongful eviction. The site sat empty for 20 years. On the 20th anniversary of the eviction, Pearl decided to perform right there, so we had the corner of Kearny and Jackson street shut down for our 3 night performances. It was amazing!
Also, Anna Halprin was a great inspiration for not only Pearl and I, but for the whole of Modern Dance. She is a well known Choreographer and Activist. She had a performance on a Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, California where the community re-enacted these rapes that had ravaged her community. The re-enactment was a way to "reclaim" the mountain that was seen as spiritual symbol for them. It was a way to "take the mountain back," also expressing grief, uniting the community around the tragedies.
Coincidentally, a week after this performance, a tip came in and the perpetrator was caught. Whether it was due to the performance or not does not really matter. The fact that the community was able to heal and take back the mountain was powerful and meaningful enough. Him being captured was just extra!
NR: Many people at Kalani love The Point, a magical place where you can see 180 degree views of the ocean, hear it roar, and do rituals or celebrations. Many visitors to Kalani have stories about special occasions or soulful moments. I know someone that had a birthday party on The Point, someone else that reclaimed her body after 5 years of being in pain due to an accident by doing Qi Gong on The Point.
Can you tell us why you chose The Point?
Wailana: The Point was just the most logical place to go outside while here at Kalani. Thus it is a celebration of nature really, more than reclaiming anything or making a poltical statement. It is to honor the 'aina (land) and to recall the story of Hi'iaka and Pele where they live here in Puna. It is so inspiring to live where their myths and legends are lived out. And, as you know, the Point is so symbolic. To me it is like where time stands still, a portal to the gods and the sea, a symbol of union where the sea meets the sky. Supernature is a nod to the super nature found here and to the supernatural gods and goddesses of Hawaii.
NR: One well known Goddess of Hawaiian myth is Pele...
Wailana: Pele has chosen to live here next to us, with her "clan," right here at Kileaua. We are right next to her, we feel her everyday. We can't do a dance outside without talking about Pele. I want to pay homage to this wahi pana (storied place) of Puna that have been told for hundreds of years.
NR: What will you be doing for the performance?
Wailana: It's very eclectic and all over the place. Some acting, spoken word. Some oli (chanting). We're going to be doing some Aerial work too on the tissue, ring, and straps, hanging from the trees there. We're going to have a Nina Simone song I am excited to work on in the aerial straps, a pas de deux to "Wild is the Wind" by my favorite, Nina Simone.
We'll have some different influences, like some kitschy camp 70s music (Supernature by Cerrone), some original hula and oli, songs about Pele.
NR: How can we come see you in this unique performance?
The performance is Saturday March 19th, 5:30pm at The Point. We are accepting love donations of any kind! We are a very young company and are very ambitious. We are premiering Wai Company, our name, our mission and and our website - waicompany.com. We are stoked to be this unique dance theater company based out of Puna. We are faced with lots of challenges here but we make them into opportunities. You have to to survive. You gotta be creative. I never would of thought I would start a dance company here. But I am so glad I did.