LavaRoots dancers rehearse in Waimea for their upcoming performance fundraiser at The Blue Dragon Musiquarium and Restaurant on July 10. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
LavaRoots dancers rehearse in Waimea for their upcoming performance fundraiser that will be held at The Blue Dragon Musiquarium and Restaurant on July 10. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
LavaRoots director Michal Anna Carrillo rehearses with other dancers in preparation for their upcoming performance at The Blue Dragon Musiquarium and Restaurant on July 10. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Director Michal Anna Carrillo instructs LavaRoots dancers during a practice. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Jeannie-vie Woods practices a jump during the LavaRoots rehearsal at Kahilu Theatre on June 28. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Maura Whelehan practices her drumming technique at a LavaRoots rehearsal at Kahilu Theatre. (PHOTO BY ANNA PACHECO| SPECIAL TO NHN)
LavaRoots’ dynamic performances are infused with West African dance, drumming, hip hop, funk and creative movement. The result is a joyous expression of music and dance that is highly infectious.
“Everybody gets blown away by these performances,” said LavaRoots drummer Josh Frame.
Fortunately, Hawaii Island residents will have the opportunity to experience and participate in supporting Lavaroots Performing Arts at a fundraiser at the Blue Dragon Musiquarium and Restaurant from 6 to 10 p.m., Wednesday, July 10.
“The intention of this benefit is to help LavaRoots Performing Arts bring more dance and music to the Big Island via performances, educational opportunities and workshop events,” said LavaRoots founder Michal Anna Carrillo. “Spend your money on the arts. It’s going to be so much fun!”
Originally from Colorado, Carrillo has been studying different modalities of dance since she was 5 years old. West African dance struck a chord with her while at the University of Washington. She founded Lavaroots in 2002 with the intention of creating a vehicle for dance and cultural arts on the Big Island. Based in Hawi, the troupe is rounded out with professional musicians, dancers and drummers.
An important part of LavaRoot’s mission is to teach dance and connect with the community. Master teachers come from Africa and the mainland to teach in Hawi at the Algood Barn, and in Waimea at Kahilu Theatre.
“Everybody comes out of the classes feeling great,” said Frame, who has been drumming with the group since the beginning. “It’s mostly about connectedness and sharing with the community.”
Students in these classes range in age from 6 to 70 years old.
“What is awesome is that all kinds of people are attracted to this dance. An important part of African dance is — like Hawaiian culture — telling a story,” Carrillo said.
It is also infused with meaning.
“There is a rhythm while in the field gathering crops, weddings, life events and celebrations. So youth and elders get to share time with the ohana and that’s a powerful, powerful thing. We learn so much from each other,” said Carrillo, who also teaches dance to students from kindergarten through eighth grade.
“It’s all about the dancers, it’s talking through drum and dance. It’s very energetic and carries a lot of energy that you don’t see in other types of performances,” Frame said. “It’s a very high state of being for the audience.”
But putting on the performances is not cheap, Frame said, adding, “Nobody is making money doing these shows.”
Hence the fundraiser.
All the proceeds raised from the July 10 benefit will go toward upcoming projects. In the bigger picture, LavaRoots is working with Kissidugu Foundation to build a school of dance, music and education in Guinea, West Africa.
In October, LavaRoots will present a social commentary dance. A fusion of traditional dance and that which is applicable to the West today.
“How do we find our way while honoring the land and each other’s cultures?” Carrillo said. “That is the most valuable thing we can do.”
For the past five years, Carrillo has partnered with the Kahilu Theatre, and this year also with the Waimea Country School in an exploratory program for students ages 6-12. The Summer Arts Program brings art and science together, encouraging creativity and culminating in a performance at the theater. The program also incorporates leadership and mentoring for students 13-15 years old, and is supported by The Dorrance Family Foundation and Jack and Laurie Goldstein.
Carrillo encourages people to buy tickets early for the July 10 fundraiser, which can be purchased on their website or at The Blue Dragon. Tickets are $45 and include dinner, dancing and a silent auction, for which various island businesses have donated cruises, golf packages and healing treatments and more.
For reservations, visit lavaroots.com, or call the Blue Dragon at 882-7771.