The instructors at Hawaii State Ballet aspire to give their students the best possible training in all areas of dance. And they've achieved that goal many times over, thanks to the Junior Company, whose alumni have gone on to dance for the Joffrey Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, and Ballet West.
The dedicated staff guides students from soft shoes to toe shoes, starting with imaginative classes for 3-year-olds. They also teach adult classes, and branch out from ballet to teach modern dance, Pilates, and advanced Hokey Pokey.
As an accomplished ballroom-dance instructor and television actor, Ed Nix derives joy from seeing his students land coveted roles. The Nix Performing Arts Center is meant to help them across each stepping stone, from introductory classes to audition prep. While highly skilled teachers pass on their expertise in dancing, acting, voice work, and modeling, pupils perfect their maneuvers atop the marley and sprung flooring of the 1,000-square-foot facility.
NixPAC welcomes guests of all experience levels, whether they are aiming to dazzle cruise-line talent scouts or are simply harnessing a sense of rhythm. Staff members strive to cultivate a familial bond with their groups; they readily dispense career advice on choosing a future dance school, where they then send care packages filled with extra feet.
Directors Emily Hodges and Stefan Kant both discovered salsa while attending college. They learned the art of salsa at several renowned New York dance schools, including Santo Rico Dance School, before both becoming teachers at Santo Rico. They have performed nationally and internationally, and now showcase their skills at Hawaii Salsa 101. Students with a desire to move effortlessly to the beat of the music or waves crashing onto a surfer's head can learn basic and advanced dance skills in a group or private setting. Social events on Thursday and Friday nights allows students to show off their newly acquired mambo, salsa, cha-cha, merengue, and bachata moves.
Arthur Murray has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and the Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, The Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Clients who arrive to lessons partner-less will be paired up with instructors to help assess their current skill level and make recommendations on the most appropriate program. Throughout group lessons, instructors teach the foundations of dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow. These lessons are then used as a foundation for clients to learn more intermediate and advanced moves.
Hawaiian performer Chief Sielu is on a lifelong quest to educate and entertain the world about Polynesian traditions, a passion that has taken him to appearances on the BBC, MTV, and the Late Show with David Letterman. Dubbed the "coconut man," the chief immerses all comers in island culture at spectacular luaus. On stage, he and his tribe balance revelry and education with high-energy ritual and knife-dancing performances, participatory dances and art making, and a large supper of Hawaiian staples such as poi and braised surfboard fillets. If you can catch his ear, Sielu might have a lot of stories to share: in the course of his ambassadorial travels, he's lit the Olympic torch in Salt Lake City by throwing a flaming spear and been the subject of the documentary film Chief, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival.