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Renowned Indigenous dancer from Hawaiʻi named to national fellowship

Peter Rockford Espiritu
Tau Dance Theater
Peter Rockford Espiritu

A renowned Indigenous dancer has been named to a prestigious national fellowship.

Peter Rockford Espiritu is the only fellow from Hawaiʻi in Dance/USA’s 2022 artist cohort. He received a $30,000 grant as part of the program.

He said the money helps to supplement income during the pandemic, when many performances were put on hold or canceled, and he had to teach virtually.

Espiritu is the founder of Tau Dance Theater, which focuses on elevating and supporting Indigenous voices through culture, dance and performing arts.

“It’s important for contemporary and modern artists to comment, to create work that represents what they are about today, so that the next generation and generations 100 years later can say, in the 2000s, in 2022, this is what they were talking about," he said. "And so you have to understand that you have to support the work of modern and contemporary artists and Indigenous voices that are still creating in the now.”

Espiritu's dance company recently performed at the Festival of Firsts at Lincoln Center in New York. His productions have also been recognized and showcased locally and nationally.

He said upcoming projects include creating a production about ʻōhiʻa lehua and traveling to New Zealand to work with another dance company.

Jayna Omaye was a culture and arts reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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