Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance
International dance and music
The Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance located in Berkeley is a nonprofit organization where the world comes to dance. Artistic director/kumu hula, Mahealani Uchiyama’s vision is to provide a place where students of all ages and abilities can take part in multicultural dance experience through traditional training, lecture, demonstrations, performance opportunities, and workshops with master teachers.
The center is home to Polynesian Dance Company, KaUaTuahine, which is an internationally recognized company of dancers and musicians who have won numerous awards at the San Jose Tahiti Fetê, including top honors in the Drumming and Music Categories.
In 2021 and 2022, a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grant Program will support the organization’s African American Mbira Project, which aims to introduce, support, and perpetuate the music of the mbira (a family of instruments traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe) within the African American community. Weekly online classes and the presentation of master mbira players will seek to restore access to this rich tradition, which is one of the only forms of African music in the U.S. to exist largely outside of the African American community.
Māhealani Uchiyama discusses the mbira.
Funding from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program in 2017 and 2016 will support the annual Kapil’i Polynesian Dance and Music Workshops, offering students an immersive experience with practitioners of Oceanic culture. Areas of focus include Hawaiian, Tahitian, and Maori dance, music, and material arts at all levels. A concluding showcase will feature what participants have learned.
Māhealani Uchiyama, Director. Photo: Amir Aziz.
Mbira lesson with Eliot Motsi. Photo: Erica Azim.