Dancers honor Mr. Akemoto in final performance

The Kalani winter guard and dance class performed their end-of-year showcase in honor of Mr. Akemoto in the gym last Tuesday, May 17.  

It was the first performance since Mr. Akemoto’s passing and an emotional night for all of those he guided through his teaching. 

Some seniors, like Camile Dias (12), took on a leadership role and assisted her younger classmates in completing their dances despite the challenges of Akemoto’s absence. Dias worked to choreograph several of the performed dances and played a crucial role in directing her peers through their months of practice. 

Minutes after the performance, Dias was overwhelmed with joy and relief. 

“That was a lot of work and good stress for me,” she said. 

The gym buzzed with noise and energy as her peers celebrated with family and friends. 

“I’ve been working with these people all year,” Dias said.  I’m very proud to see how far they’ve come, especially since I’ve known some of them since their freshman year.”

As Dias’s last dance performance at Kalani, she said it was a meaningful experience. Its significance was even more profound as dancers were unable to perform live throughout the 2020-2021 school year due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

“Last year, we couldn’t have in-person shows, so it’s really important, I think, for all of us to perform live because, you know, dance is a performing art,” Dias emphasized. 

Emotions ran high for the winter guard performers as well. They danced to a compilation of Studio Ghibli songs and incorporated some of Akemoto’s unfinished choreography into their performance. 

For senior winter guard dancer Sky Sano (12), she was happy to get the chance to honor her coach with her dance. 

“We couldn’t finish the show with him, but we did include a lot of stuff that we went over with him, so it was very meaningful,” she said. 

Sano helped to finish choreographing the dance, and she and her peers have been practicing it since December. 

Two of her teammates, Yuuka Brown (10) and Megan Hanh (10), reflected proudly on their performance after the show. 

“We worked really hard for it, and I would say most of us are really proud that we finished it on a really tall note,” Hanh said.

Tuesday’s showcase was a bittersweet and soul-stirring experience for everyone involved. 

Before the show, Dias shared some inspiring words with her dance mates. Later, dancer Kailiana Hammer (10) reflected on the heartfelt speech. 

“Do this for Mr. Akemoto. Make him proud, and make yourself proud. Give it your all because it’s our chance to show off what we’ve made,” Hammer said, recalling the speech. 

The legacy of Mr. Akemoto will live on in the hearts and minds of these students and the many lives he touched during his time at Kalani.