Students learn about life through performing arts

LIHU‘E — The relation between life lessons and the performing arts became evident to the nine competitors Wednesday at The Mokihana Club Performing Arts Competition.

The high school seniors came from Waimea, Island School, Kaua‘i, and Kapa‘a high schools, and vied for an opportunity to win scholarships that will be presented by members of The Mokihana Club.

“We want to encourage those students who are aspiring for careers in the performing arts,” club member Nina Magoun said.

“But we also want them to learn that this is also about learning life practices.

“If we say the deadline is a certain date, the applications must be turned in on time. If we say the applications must be typed, then, it must be typed,” she said. “This is what life is about.”

The stage at the Lihue United Church parish hall where the 2006 Performing Arts Competition was held was made even smaller by the appearance of a grand piano that, due to the stage’s size, could not be moved out of place.

This posed a problem to three competitors who offered dance routines.

Marilyn Oglesby, chair of the competition, said that none of the three dancers had seen the stage setup prior to the Wednesday-morning competition and, on their arrival, had to adjust their routines to take the stage layout into consideration.

Dance routines ranged from a classical ballet by Mercedes Johnson to a contemporary hip-hop number performed by Alicia Cowern, who overcame not only the piano but technical difficulties with her CD. Natasha Arruda performed an ‘auana hula.

Johnson, who has studied ballet for 14 years, has entered and performed in numerous competitions, and aspires to become a professional ballerina.

Cowern has studied dance and gymnastics since she was 5 years old, and has been involved in several-musical theater productions locally.

Arruda has been studying hula since age 4, and has earned awards in numerous competitive hula events.

“It doesn’t have a title yet, but if I win the scholarship, I’ll be more than happy to name the piece after it,” Kira Furugen told the audience of The Mokihana Club members and their guests.

Furugen was one of four performers competing with piano pieces, and while the others did classical numbers, Furugen performed a composition that she said she created for a friend’s birthday.

Nathaniel Beralas, a seven-year student of piano as well as the recipient of the “Critics Circle” rating, and Luke Shimabukuro, a piano student for eight years, were the only two male competitors. Heather Haack split her performance between a flute solo and the piano.

Haack performed a flute solo, “Partita for Flute in A Minor,” and Melanie Goto, a member of the Kaua‘i All-Island Marching Band that marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., had piano accompaniment for her “Sonata III in G Major” by Handel.

Competitive routines had to be between three and seven minutes in length, with members of The Mokihana Club voting on the winners via a secret ballot that was collected following the competition.

Lynell Wright was accompanied by Dr. Dennis Haack as she performed a live “Sonatina” composed by Haydn on her alto saxophone. Wright, who started studying the saxophone in the seventh grade, was the only performer on the sax.

“We were very fortunate to have this number of competitors,” Oglesby said. “These are very talented students. They’re young, talented, exciting, and fun. The Mokihana Club is very proud to be able to support their performing-arts efforts.”

Because of the number of ballots, results of the competition will not be available until club members’ meeting Wednesday.

This is yet another of life’s lessons, where results of one’s efforts are not immediately known.

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