Step Right Up to Pas De Deux Showcase


Photo by Anika Ramos

Students like Isabelle San Clemente utilized the dance skills they learned in class to take on different characters related to the circus theme of the showcase.

Caitlin Barbour , Editor-in-Chief

On Sept. 21 to 22 and 28 to 29, Pas De Deux (PDD) Hawai’i, a dance company run by MHS Class of ‘95 alumna and owner Wendy Calio-Gilbert, put on their showcase at Kroc Center Hawai’i in Ewa Beach. This year’s theme takes inspiration from the circus, combining acts from each department: ballet, jazz and hip hop, into the performance “Step Right Up.”

    “For most of us, the first time we ever heard this phrase was at the circus. It’s a memory that stays with you for a lifetime, whether it’s the sounds and smells of the animals, the delicious food and snacks, or the huge prizes you can win at the Midway. The death defying feats of the tightrope, the oddities like the bearded lady and the wolf man — there was something that made a lasting impression,” said Calio-Gilbert.

    The first act from the ballet department of the studio is entitled “Imagination de Circus.” It begins the story of a little girl whose imagination transports her to the circus. Act Two is presented by the jazz department through “Carnival in the Park,” in which a mother and daughter get separated and must go searching for each other. The final act is “The Show Must Go On,” performed by the hip hop crew. The heroines find their way to the main event when the main act is injured, forcing the ringmaster to find a replacement. “We always try to come up with something that is fun, familiar and has the ability to encompass all genres of dance that we teach at PDD,” said Calio-Gilbert. “Our graphic designer Janice Gaspar created original circus themed art for our show poster, t-shirts, student name tags and more. Our teachers created short stories and dances centered around a circus; each act is directed by a different teacher. A lot of collaboration occurred to create one cohesive storyline.”

    The show included dancers from a wide age range, including Seniors Evan Imata and Hannah Ocampo. Both are part of the Senior Hip Hop Company and danced in “Puppet Master,” a number in which the performers dressed and danced like creepy puppets. “This is the first recital where I’m dancing with the Senior Hip Hop Company, which is the PDD competition team. The standards and choreography are at higher levels than what I’ve experienced before, so it’s definitely a step out of my comfort zone. Also, this showcase is special to me because it’s my very last one with the studio. I’ve been dancing at Pas De Deux since I was in fourth grade, so leaving the studio is like leaving home. I grew up and made so many friends there, and ‘Step Right Up’ is the final chapter for me,” said Imata.

    Calio-Gilbert gained experience as a performer through jobs as an actor, dancer, choreographer and vocalist throughout her career. She decided to open the studio in 2010 and it has since grown through the people that have chosen to stay there. “I had taught dance for many years, worked at Disney Parks, was part of the original cast of Andrew Loyd Webber’s ‘Bombay Dreams’ on Broadway and starred as Nina on Disney Junior’s TV series ‘Imagination Movers.’ In my second season of filming I decided it was time to give back to my local community and bring more performing and training opportunities to young dancers in my hometown,” said Calio-Gilbert.

    Both Ocampo and Imata began dancing at an early age. Ocampo started dancing at PDD in 2012 and Imata in 2011. “That was when dance crews like the Jabbawockeez and 8 Flavahz became big, so that inspired me to take hip hop classes. I chose Pas De Deux specifically, because they also offered acting classes, and I really wanted to be an actor as well as a dancer,” said Imata. Ocampo added, “I started dancing because it was always just so fun to watch other people do it and when I watched the recitals I thought that the dances were cool, thinking to myself that I want to be able to do that too.”

    PDD offers lessons in dance, voice and musical theatre, giving those at the studio various opportunities to improve their performance skills. After the amount of time spent together at the studio, the people there have formed a community. “Dancing at Pas De Deux is like dancing with a family. Everyone, from the staff to the students, is so nice to each other and we spend so much time together that it’s like a tight knit family,” said Ocampo. Imata added, “Pas De Deux is a safe and positive place. All of us have had to dance in front of each other, and all of us have had to do things that were out of our comfort zone. That was terrifying for me at first, until I realized that everyone there is supportive of each other’s growth as performers. The entire time I’ve danced at the studio, I’ve always felt like I was part of a family. My instructors have taught me to take chances, and I think that helped me to become more confident. At Pas De Deux, you not only grow as a dancer, you grow as a person.”

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