Peter Rockford Espiritu is the newly appointed Artistic Director of the Oceania Dance Theatre and has served as Founder and Executive & Artistic Director of Tau Dance Theater, Hawai‘i’s critically acclaimed professional modern dance company. It is a non-profit 501(c)3 arts organization that reflects the multi-culturalism of Hawai‘i and Oceania. This year, the company celebrated its 15th anniversary, continuing to respectfully honor the traditional art forms and oral traditions of the cultures of Polynesia while setting new standards for a modern Oceania through the performing arts. Mr. Espiritu has the distinguished privilege of being the only professional western form dance company based in Hawai‘i directed by a native Polynesian.
This year, Mr. Espiritu was Co-Director and Choreographer for the newly opened AULANI, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii in September, 2011. It is the first “destination” resort built by Disney in the world that focuses on indigenous culture and art.
For 7 years Mr. Espiritu served as Artistic Director for “ECHO”, Education through Cultural & Historical Organization’s Performing Arts Festival and national tour. ECHO is an oral traditions performance project supporting native identity. It is a partnership with the Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Hawaii, the Peabody Essex Museum, New Bedford Whaling Museum, and Wampanoag Tribe in Aquina (Martha’s Vineyard) in Massachusetts, the Native Alaskan Heritage Center and Inupiak Heritage Center in Barrow, Alaska, and the Mississippi Band of the Choctaw Indians, together with the Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institutes in New York and Washington D.C.
Mr. Espiritu has created a large body of work during his 15 years as Artistic Director and has garnered many awards. Scholarships to study include the School of American Ballet founded by George Balanchine in New York City, American Dance Festival at Duke University, and the Colorado Dance Festival & Aspen Dance Festivals. He is proficient in Ballet, Hula, and Modern Dance (Limon’ Technique), and has danced and taught globally. Internationally Mr. Espiritu choreographs and teaches in Nagoya & Tokyo Japan for the past 10 years and has performed in Italy, Guatemala, Bali, Mexico, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Polynesia.
The topics and ideas that Mr. Espiritu has chosen to be the impetus of his many dances include: mixing of cultures, native spirituality, responsible fusion and cultural evolution, and global village awareness. Traditional elements as a base help to anchor his work while keeping connected to his cultural identity in the face of increasing western influences. The work functions as an artistic mirror that reflects the impact of what Oceania was, has become, and where it is headed. This movement based viewpoint produces specific artistic images that are unique to geographical location, Pacific Island culture, and native pluralism.