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Celebrating the unifying power of traditional dance with Mahea Uchiyama

Brennan Gilroy. Cropped and Resized.

Mahea Uchiyama is the founder and director of the Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance in Berkeley. She's also the president of the board of World Arts West, which puts on the annual extravaganza that is the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival.

Uchiyama grew up within the Hawaiian hula tradition of her hometown, Washington D.C.  Her love for the practice later brought her to places like Hawai’i, New Zealand and Tahiti, where she studied dance and immersed herself in local culture. She spoke to KALW’s Jen Chien.

"The energy of the wind, the sound of the water, the look of the trees as they're moving..."

You can catch HalauKa’uaTuahine in concert this Saturday evening at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. Tickets can be found here.

The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival runs June 3 — June 19.

Jen Chien was the managing editor for Crosscurrents and KALW News from 2016 to 2018. She has been a contributor to All Things Considered, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC/PRI’s The World, Making Contact, SF Public Press, East Bay Express, New America Media, and KPFA in Berkeley, where she took part in the First Voice Apprenticeship Program. She is the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Emerging Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California. She holds a BA in American Studies from Smith College, and an MA in Interdisciplinary Performance from New College of California. Before entering the field of journalism, she had a successful career as a professional dance and theater artist, teacher, and massage therapist.