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Learn Hawaiian Art & History Online with These Big Island Virtual Classes

Social distancing doesn’t have to mean lack of interaction or learning. Organizations throughout Hawai’i have taken a creative approach to learning by offering distance talk story sessions and workshops to maintain community outreach while social distancing.  Here are some unique, high quality programs to whet your educational appetite. These Big Island virtual classes are also particularly good for those who are introverts or might want to try something new without other people around, so they offer a really unique opportunity.

Summer Dance Camp – Prince Dance Institute

The Prince Dance Institute is a dance and performing arts school based in Kamuela, Waimea on the Big Island. Founder Angel Prince established the school in 2004 to provide a space for the community to discover performance art. PDI offers classes in everything from ballet to breakdance, with a little something for everyone.

Their Summer Dance Camp will be entirely virtual this year, running from July 13 to July 30 Monday through Thursday via live Zoom classes.  Instructors include dancers of diverse backgrounds from all over the Big Island and the US Mainland, including New York City. Week 1 of the camp focuses on Contemporary & Modern dance, floor work, ballet and body conditioning. Week 2 breaks out into hip hop, break dancing, bass and traditional African dance. Week 3 focuses on performance arts, including musical theater, acting for dancers and choreography. Dancers and performers of all ability levels are welcome. The Kickin’ Keiki Camp takes kids as young as 5! 

In addition to the classes instructed by PDI, access to the CLI Studios 2020 Dance Experience will be included for free to students age 8 and older.  The classes from CLI Studios provide dancers with hundreds of classes in all styles and disciplines taught by world-class choreographers, available via livestream 5+ days a week.

To learn more about the Summer Dance Camp, please visit Prince Dance Institute.

Mondays with Maile – Hosted by Kona Historical Society

Maile Melrose is a lifelong advocate of the history and culture of Hawai’i. She is a noted author and historian in Kona, in addition to being the President of the Amy BH Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden. She conveys the importance of preservation and an appreciation of Kona’s historic places, people, and natural history through her writings, guided tours, and a web based series called “Mondays with Maile.”

Mondays with Maile are presented via livestream on the Kona Historical Society Facebook page the second Monday of the Month at 1 p.m. Previous Mondays with Maile can be found on the Kona Historical Society website. Maile hosts a talk story style presentation, sharing materials from the Kona Historical Society Kalukalu Headquarters and taking viewers questions. 

July’s Monday with Maile on July 13 will present the topic of Leprosy in Hawai’i. During the talk, Maile will utilize an article written for the Hawaiian Journal of History, “Doctor Georges Phillipe Trosseau, Royal Physician.”  Dr. Trosseau was largely responsible for the aggressive effort to segregate lepers from the general populace in the mid 1800s. “Epidemics and pandemics are a part of our history that is particularly interesting to me in this time of the coronavirus,” Melrose says. “This will be a brief tale of leprosy and now it affected Hawai‘i, using Dr. Trousseau’s experience to illustrate how the solution to epidemics is never clear cut, often painful, and the cost is paid in human lives.”

To learn more about Mondays with Maile, please visit Kona Historical Society’s website.

Aloha Alive and International Club of Ukulele Players Events – Hosted by Brian and Rowena Promotions

The Aloha Alive and I.C.U.P virtual events are quintessentially Hawaiian, conducted in the same style as a kanikapila. The talented Kona-based husband and wife duo Brian and Rowena Vasquez would normally be found performing at live venues, including six months at sea with Princess Cruises. These days, they bring their spirit, skill, and enthusiasm for sharing Hawaii’s performing culture to the web with two recurring online events.

Aloha Alive is a regular series of 90-minute live streams every Thursday, featuring live Hawaiian music, hula, and local style humor. I.C.U.P virtual sessions are available to ukulele players every Tuesday in July. Register in advance with a small donation (any size) and join in the fun. Once registration and donation are submitted, you will be emailed sheet music to follow along with the live ‘uke music being played. The relaxed and fun environment for playing music is great for beginners and skilled players alike, with players joining in from all over the world to learn together.  Donations over $10 will enter you into a raffle for a koa wood concert ukulele! Specialty ukulele classes will be available next month.

To learn more about the I.C.U.P virtual ukulele club meetings, please visit their website.

Virtual & In-Person Documentary Filmmaking Workshop – Hosted by Hawai’i Doc Club at Hilo Palace Theater

Filmmaker Alison Week is returning home to the Big Island to lead an 8 week long documentary filmmaking workshop from July 29 through September 19. Week has filmmaking credits working and shooting with clients like BBC, NBC/Universal, Business Insider, and Verizon. Over the course of the workshop participants will watch modern documentary films to study film theory, learn skills to film and edit their own work, and produce their own 5-minute short film. This workshop was made to support aspiring filmmakers of all experience levels, using the simplest equipment. As Week says, “You won’t need a fancy camera to learn how to tell a great story.” Course content is based on Alison’s professional work experience and draws from what she wished she learned when she started off in the industry.

Classes will meet in-person at Hilo Palace Theater or online via zoom on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (July 29 – Sept 16) or Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. (Aug 1 – Sept 19). Half sessions (4 weeks, $250) or full sessions (8 weeks, $450) are available, and filmmakers of all experience levels ages 15 and up are welcome. Students enrolled in the full session will receive 3-months free membership to the Hawaiʻi Filmmakers Collective. Scholarships are available for the 8 week workshop series, apply with a short essay here. Learn more about the workshop and register here.

Mākau Moʻomeheu: An Online Webinar on Cultural Competency – Hosted by Hawaiʻi Museums Association

Hawai’i Museum Association (HMA) is a non-profit dedicated to supporting museums and related institutions in Hawai’i by providing an ongoing program of training, networking, and publication. Our local Pacific Tsunami Museum in Hilo is one of their institutional members.

HMA is hosting a three part webinar series called “Mākau Moʻomeheu.” The webinars focus on the topic of cultural competency in regards to specific regions of Hawai’i. Cultural competence is the ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across diverse cultures. The webinar seeks to examine the relationship between museum curation/exhibition and the recognition and proper conveyance of Native Hawaiian culture. The first Mākau Moʻomeheu session on July 11 focuses on the Big Island. Featured guest speakers include park ranger Keola Awong and cultural practitioner Kahakaʻio Ravenscraft from Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, as well as cultural resource specialist Mahealani Pai from Kamehameha Schools.

To learn more about the Mākau Moʻomeheu webinars, please visit Hawai’i Museum Association’s website.

Other Hawai’i-Based Virtual Classes  

Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts – Kids Art Workshops & Livestream Concerts

The Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (SFCA) seeks to perpetuate, preserve and promote culture and the arts across the State of Hawai’i. Throughout the month of July and the beginning of August, SFCA will be hosting streaming events. The HiSAM (Honolulu State Art Museum) Concert series streams music live from Castle Park on Oahu via Instagram Live, @HawaiiStateArtMuseum. The next Kids Art Workshop is on July 14 at 10 a.m., with the theme “Let’s Be a Volcano.”  This Zoom workshop is ideal for keiki in grades 1-3. Keiki will have the opportunity to look at artwork inspired by volcanoes, and respond will all of their senses to creatively interpret what makes a volcano. 

Continuing Kids Art Workshops will take place on July 21, July 28, and Aug 4. For more information, please visit the SFCA website.

Japan-America Society of Hawai’i JASH – Keiki Art and Japanese Cultural Talks

“The Japan-America Society of Hawai’i was founded in 1976 to promote understanding and friendship between the people of Japan and the United States through the special and unique perspective of Hawai’i.” JASH seeks to offer educational programs and content to the public, as well as provide high quality Japanese language services to local businesses across the state. JASH is hosting online art workshops and Japanese cultural talks throughout July, August TBD. 

On July 10 and 24 at 1:30 p.m., join Ashley Nishihara from the Hawaii Origami Club and learn to make origami while listening to a “storigami” tale. Transform a piece of plain origami paper into several incarnations following along with the story! This crafting workshop is geared towards children grades 1-5. 

On July 16, join Ray Tabata for a cultural talk story via Zoom discussing the “Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami: From Devastation to Resilience.” Ray Tabata retired from the University of Hawai’i in 2011, the same year as the devastating earthquake and tsunami event. Over the course of his retirement, Ray has been firsthand documenting the rebuilding and recovery of the Tohoku community. Ray will be presenting his own photography of Tohoku, as well as discuss the impact the disaster had on its people.