In August 2014, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe completed its 67th season. At this event, members of Castle Dance Ensemble from the Castle Performing Art Centre (CPAC) at Castle High School, became part of Scottish performance art history. Now, some of the Castle Dance Ensemble will add a touch of local history, by being the first Hawai’i based performance group to perform a full show at Edinburgh and O’ahu Fringe Festival. We think that is a cool little bit of history. To find out more we spoke with director Natalie Uehara about their show the, Castle Dance Ensemble Showcase.

Was the trip to Edinburgh this year the first for members of the CPACensemble?
CPAC took a group to the Fringe in 2009, but this was the first time for this particular group of students.

How many students from that trip will participate at Fringe 2015, and what are their feelings about gearing up to do another Fringe?
Out of our 31 members, 8 were at the Scotland festival in 2014. They are extremely excited to be a part of O’ahu Fringe. Being immersed in the artist culture is extremely inspiring.

Can you please share what CPAC does within the school environment and also on their outreach projects?
Born from the excellent tradition of the Castle Performing Arts Center, the Castle Dance Ensemble was founded by the director of Castle Dance Force, Natalie Uehara. The main purpose of this selected group is to create more performance opportunities for dedicated dancers from Castle High School. Many aspects of this unique organization were implemented to create an ideal work environment for student dancers. The group functions much like a professional dance company with a repertoire of dance pieces showcasing the diversity of the dancers within the company. The Castle Dance Ensemble also serves to benefit the community, Castle Performing Arts Center, and the dancers themselves by not only promoting distinction in dance performance, but also by upholding high standards in the classroom and beyond.

Being able to give back to the community is very nurturing for an artist, especially emerging young artists. How important is this to the CPACensemble?
Almost all of our shows are community based. This aspect is very important for us.

What will the ensemble perform at Fringe 2015?
We will perform a showcase of student choreographed dance pieces of many dance styles.

How did you decide on the pieces for the ensemble? Was it based on what they knew or will there be new material?
Students were required to do proposals of their dance pieces from which I picked the strongest ones. There will be some new material as well as some from our repertory.

You do have a large cast…how do you manage them, and all the other parts of producing a production? And will we see every single performer on the stage at one time?
Our ensemble has officers much like a school club who help to organize everything and keep things in line. There are some small group numbers, but, yes, there are many times where all members will be on stage at the same time.

Will you also perform?
Not at this showcase.

How satisfying is it for you when you see your students up on the stage after hours of dedication to their art form?
That feeling is why I love my job!

Thank you.
O’ahu Fringe Festival wishes the production of Castle Dance Ensemble all the very best with their performance at Fringe 2015.

Tickets to Castle Dance Ensemble will be available at in January 2015. For more information about them, please visit, Castle Dance Ensemble.