Experience immersive ritual dance

  • Photo by DEMIAN BARRIOS Performers Colee Garr, Karen Masaki, Julie Mercia, Emily Herb, Therese Pacheco, Charles Bankhead Gaines and Julie Alessio.

Colee Garr of Hilo Shala, dancer and choreographer Jenn Eng, Dance Magic’s Jami Deva, kumu hula Ryan McCormack and vocal artist Rhiannon will present “Internal Altars,” an immersive ritual dance theater offering, at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20, at Hilo Yoga Shala & Bodywork in the Kaikodo Building in downtown Hilo.

In celebration of the winter solstice, the performance explores ritual through the lens of hula, yoga, dance, sound and vocal improvisation. The musical soundtrack features classic mantra, oli and improvisational vocal soundscapes.


From directors Garr and Eng: “the period leading to the winter solstice is a time to explore and honor our shadow selves. This is the essence of our explorations in ‘Internal Altars’: to dig deep, to illumine and witness our darkness, to perhaps discover their value, and open to transformation.”

Eng believes “dance and movement, sparked by deep listening, integrity and trust, free us to express and explore our truth. Whatever emerges as we breathe and dance — say yes! Allow, breathe, surrender, expand, with the intention to bring forth our love, courage and whole selves into the world.”

Besides the principals, performers include Julie Alessio, Kanani Daley, Hiroko Gutierrez, Charles Bankhead Haines, Emily Herb, Karen Masaki, Julie Mercia, Therese Pacheco and members of McCormack’s halau Maunuunu.

Garr is co-owner of Hilo Yoga Shala & Bodywork. Trained in the Ashtanga and Iyengar styles, she has practiced and taught yoga 22 years. Garr began dancing and singing at an early age and was a saxophonist and singer in her father’s R&B band. Since 2004, she has participated in performances of dance for rituals and ceremonies.

Eng has danced and performed most of her life. Inspired by the 1982 movie “Annie” and its singing and dancing orphans, she dove into community children’s theatre and high school productions. Eng graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her professional credits include the second national tour of “Miss Saigon,” Paul McCartney’s Driving USA Tour and many nationally televised commercials. On the Big Island, she is honing her unique expressive style and discovering the rewarding world of choreography and teaching.

McCormack is an ‘Uniki ‘Ai Lolo of Unukupukupu, having completed his formal rites of passage under the tutelage of Taupōuri Tangaro. He is a lecturer in the Hawaii Life Styles department at Hawaii Community College. McCormack’s passion for hula and community most recently culminated in a masters degree in depth psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. He teaches an open community hula class at Hilo Yoga Shala.

Rhiannon is a vocal artist with a vision of music as a vehicle for innovation, healing, transformation and social change. She has brought her unique and potent blend of jazz, world music, improvisation and storytelling to audiences for more than four decades. Rhiannon lives and works on her farm on the Big Island. Her teaching/performance space, Ha Lau Leo Nani, The Gathering Place, honors culture and community.

Practicing with the Sufi’s for more than 30 years, Deva is a visionary producer of ecstatic music and events that empower people to strengthen and renew their own autonomous connection to the true source. He believes sound, breath and movement are the keys to unlocking human potential and returning to the natural frequency of true love. Deva has been the audio producer, DJ and co-founder on tour with Qi Revolution since 2005.


Tickets for the event are $22 and available at www.hiloshala.com/tickets or at the door the day of the concert. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Hilo Yoga Shala & Bodywork is located on the second floor of the Kaikodo Building at 64 Keawe St.

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