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Hawai‘i CC Professor to premiere new dance piece ‘Poli‘ahu v. Pele’ on Friday, September 16

Poli'ahu v. Pele will premiere Friday, Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo Performing Arts Center. (Photo by G.J. Suzuki)

Dr. Trina Nahm-Mijo, Professor of Dance, Psychology and Women’s Studies at Hawai‘i Community College, will premiere a new piece titled: “Poli‘ahu v. Pele” on Friday, Sept. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Performing Arts Center.

Poli‘ahu v. Pele will premier at “Dance Collective,” a new show that organizers plan to present annually. Dance Collective was conceived and directed by Dori Yamada and sponsored by the UH Hilo Performing Arts Center.

The inspiration for the piece comes from a Huaka‘i that Nahm-Mijo, five other faculty members, and 100 students went on last spring to Mauna Ā Wakea to honor and integrate kaʻao, Hawaiian protocols, and scientific knowledge about the mountain into their course studies in Philosophy, Geography, Anthropology, Social Science, and English.

“We visited Lake Waiau, and on our walk there from the summit, I experienced the presence of all the snow goddesses: Poli`ahu, Lilinoe, Waiau, and Kahoupōkane,” said Nahm-Mijo. “I felt the smallness of humans, and the power that is nature, which will exist long after we are gone.”

This dance is a tribute to that encounter. It depicts one of the ka‘ao (myths) in which geological tension between fire and ice is expressed through the interaction between the goddesses, Poli`ahu and Pele and the mediating force of water, depicted as Lake Waiau.

“The piece is a true collaboration between the artistry of the performers, Kumu Leilehua Yuen who is Poli`ahu and Pōlanimakamae Kahakalau, who is Keahilele and Pele,” said Nahm-Mijo.  

Kahakalau is a recent Hawai‘i CC graduate and current Miss Kona Coffee, who is majoring in performing arts at UH Hilo. All the oli and music is original, except for the opening mele “Poli`ahu I Ke Kapu” composed by Hawane Rios and sung by Kahakalau.

Manu Josiah who plays the nose flute, `ili`ili and kāla`au is another contributor to the collaboration. Another unique contributor to the piece is Hawai‘i CC Professor Dr. Taupōuri Tangarō, whose masterful taga creations worn by the dancers become characters themselves in the dance.

The other pieces in the show represent a range of styles including modern, hip-hop, jazz, and environmental. Tickets are available at the UH Hilo Performing Arts Center box office, Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or by phone at (808) 932-7490. General: $20; UH Students with valid ID and children 17 and under: $10. For more information, email: