Earth's 9 gates to salvation


POSTED: Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Audience participation can be risky business, especially when spray bottles full of water are involved. Cheryl Flaharty evidently knows her audience well because everyone behaved—during my “;journey”; anyway—in supporting Mother Nature at the Saturday performance of “;The Living Earth”; by Iona Contemporary Dance Theatre at Sky Gate.





        Presented by Iona Contemporary Dance Theatre:

» Where: Sky Gate at Honolulu Hale Grounds


» When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday


» Cost: $30 pre-sale, $40 at the door ($5 discount for students and seniors)


» Call: 528-0506 or www.hawaiitheatre.com


Mother Nature (Maile Baran Primacio) received audience support with spray bottles, flashlights, fans and strips of red cloth, but only on cue.

Primacio is one of 30 actor-dancers who portray animals, bodhisattvas, the universe, a “;future paper boy”; and other characters in a program designed to address several topical issues regarding our society, environment and planet, including world peace, biodiversity and global warming, as an artistic call to action.

Audience members encounter some of them while visiting each of nine “;gates”; or tents. Others perform in the central “;Cosmic Circus”; while the “;gates”; are being reset for the next group of visitors.

There are nine journeys to choose from on arrival, exploring such paths as bliss, change, idea, matter, spirit and motion. Mine started with “;Mandlovu—Elephant,”; a piece supporting animal rights, and ended with “;Plugged In,”; about biodiversity.

Ranking with Primacio-Mother Nature as the most entertaining “;gate”; resident is Chandra Miars as a talking cockroach; Miars is a fine actress, and the physicality of her performance adds to its impact. Aerialist Andrea Torres gives a memorable performance inside a transparent world in “;Earth Soul,”; and Nicole Young combines the art of mime with an imaginative costume that audience members activate in “;Plugged In.”;

The audience first sees Summer Partlon standing barefoot on a melting block of ice in “;Thin Ice,”; a piece on global warming that quickly suggests the plight of the polar bear. Several other “;gate”; pieces are interesting as performance but too opaque to deliver intended messages on their own.