The audience was welcoming and made this an amazing evening of Hawaiian entertainment in Brooklyn, NYC. National Sawdust is a very cool venue with a professional staff and stellar sound.
This was a unique, multimedia show that brought together the tradition of Hawaiian hula, the poetry of Hawaiian songs, science, and fishing — all connected by an indigenous people’s respect for the land as stewards of the environment.
Appreciate NS having us.
Hula, chanting, and music of Hawai‘i and a deep dive into the aquatic realm will be on offer during this special NationalSawdust+ evening featuring Kumu Vicky Holt Takamine and her NYC-based hālau, Pua Ali’i Ilima O Nuioka, with a special appearance by Native Hawaiian surfer, fisherman, and coral reef scientist Crispin Nakoa of the new, Hilo-based MEGA lab. Takamine, a renowned kumu hula (master teacher of Hawaiian dance) and founder of the PA’I Foundation, has long been a powerful advocate for social justice issues, the protection of native Hawaiian rights and practices, and the natural and cultural resources of Hawai‘i. Nakoa shares his cultural connection to the islands’ marine ecosystem and the critical conservation efforts of the MEGA lab, a next-generation research facility and global consortium of scientists, athletes, artists, and storytellers committed to using science to create innovative solutions to protect our oceans.
This event is part of For Nature, three NS+ programs exploring the natural world with artists and musicians, scientists, and activists working to preserve and restore the environment. Curated by Elena Park, the events will spotlight works connected to ocean, land, and the animal kingdom; native and indigenous wisdom; and recent research and ways forward. For Nature is made possible by the generous support of Kathryn and Emmanuel Morlet and the Westcustogo Foundation.
Often topical and always imaginative, NationalSawdust+ is a lively performance and conversation series in which artists and thinkers share their passion for music and explore timely ideas, making surprising connections. Since National Sawdust’s inception, NS+ has been a home for intimate stories and unexpected artmaking, blurring boundaries between genres and disciplines.
NS+ taps luminaries from theater, film and visual art, literature, science and beyond, to create insightful programs that reflect their own interests. Guests have included Jad Abumrad, Ava DuVernay, Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Min-Jin Lee, Yo-Yo Ma, Nico Muhly, Carl Hancock Rux, Patti Smith, esperanza spalding, Carrie Mae Weems, Marina Abramovic + Laurie Anderson, and Caroline Shaw + Anthony Roth Costanzo + Gandini Juggling. Jeff Tang is consulting producer for the series.
Vicky Holt Takamine is the founder and kumu hula (master teacher) of Pua Ali‘i ‘Ilima, a school of traditional Hawaiian dance with classes on Oʻahu, Kauaʻi, and New York City. She graduated through the ‘ūniki rituals of hula from Maiki Aiu Lake, received her BA and MA from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, and for more than 30 years was a lecturer of hula at UH Mānoa Music Department and Leeward Community College. Vicky is well-respected throughout the Hawaiian community for her cultural expertise and advocacy work on behalf of Hawaiians, their cultural traditions, and the protection and preservation of the cultural and natural resources of Hawai‘i. In 1997, she coordinated a massive demonstration of Hawaiian cultural practitioners to oppose legislation that would severely restrict native Hawaiian cultural practices. Since then, she has coordinated demonstrations, rallies and marches calling for social, economic and environmental justice for native Hawaiians. Vicky co-founded ‘Īlio‘ulaokalani, a coalition of traditional practitioners committed to protecting their Hawaiian customs and traditions.
Pua Ali‘i ‘Ilima O Nuioka is the NYC branch of the hālau hula (school of traditional Hawaiian dance) founded by Vicky Holt Takamine in 1977. The hālau was named by Kumu Vicky’s kumu hula, Maiki Aiu Lake, and means the “Royal ‘Ilima Blossom,” which alludes to her graduation from Maiki’s Papa ‘Ilima (the ‘ilima class) and her ancestry of Hawaiian royalty. The hālau participates in cultural festivals and events throughout Hawaii, nationally, and internationally. Pua Aliʻi ʻIlima provides traditional hula training for keiki (children), teens, and adults on an invitational basis, as well as providing introductory hula instruction for those who are looking for a more casual, beginner-level class. Haumāna (students) attend weekly classes.
Emphasizing the importance of science, technology, and fun, the MEGA (Multiscale Environmental Graphical Analysis) Lab specializes in studying the marine realm. Its overarching goal is to create innovative solutions that protect our oceans, providing to the communities that need them the most. Based in Hilo, Hawaii, the lab currently consists of three main research groups that specialize in marine ecology, data science, climate change, and molecular analysis. Its advanced techniques allow for interpreting the chemical and geophysical characteristics that support healthy ecosystems, and storytelling through digital media and creative arts is a large component of its work. The MEGA lab’s scientists include Crispin Nakoa, who grew up surfing and fishing in the waters near his native Hilo. His passions in these areas have motivated him to pursue higher education in the environmental field to give back to the people and places that have shaped the person he has become. He uses science and innovative technologies to understand how coral reefs respond to external stressors and how we can better connect scientists with community members who rely on common resources. Currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Life Sciences at Arizona State University while based in Hilo, Nakoa seamlessly stitches together his ocean knowledge and scientific training with a perspective that creates space for indigenous science in a heavily western science driven world.
Throughout her colorful career, NationalSawdust+ director and curator Elena Park has moved freely through the worlds of arts, culture, and media. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she and her company Lumahai Productions embrace opportunities for artistic collaboration and social change with artists, thinkers, and communities as well as institutions, large and small.
Elena has served as director/executive producer for In Song video portraits featuring Pretty Yende and Jamie Barton (San Francisco Opera), Jake Heggie’s Intonations (Cabrillo Festival), Vân-Ánh Võ (Stanford Live), and Cleveland Orchestra’s In Focus programs conducted by Alan Gilbert and Jane Glover. For the Metropolitan Opera, she is Executive Producer of the Saturday radio broadcasts and was Supervising Producer for the first 140 Live in HD shows. For San Francisco Opera, she is a Strategic Advisor and Curator of the new INSTIGATORS program. Other credits: San Francisco Symphony’s MTT25: An American Icon, Bel Canto (feature film), Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle; Strategic Advisor for Cambodian Living Arts and Meyer Sound; Special Advisor for …(Iphigenia); and Artistic Consultant for the Kennedy Center.