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Ka Punahou

The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

Punahou Dance Teams Return to Competition

Ellie Chung ’26

Dance School Director Annri Opitz-Kostick has high hopes for the future of dance competitions at Punahou Dance School. 


She’s been making strides in her second year as director: with two new teams in addition to the regular Dance Team, even more Punahou Dance School (PDS) students can participate in local and regional competitions. 


At the start of the school year, PDS faculty held auditions for the competition teams. Dancers in seventh grade and up auditioned for the well-known Punahou Dance Team, while the recently developed Mini Dance Team provided new opportunities for third through sixth graders. Older dancers with advanced ballet technique and pointe experience were invited to audition to become Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) competitors. These six dancers will train and compete solos in the ballet and contemporary styles. 


Punahou Dance Team has a history of competing in local dance competitions like Spotlight Dance Cup but has not participated in multiple years. This team has been directed by Maile Lum ‘86 for over 20 years. The Mini Dance Team is directed by new hire Halle Lum, Maile’s daughter and a former PDS student herself. YAGP competitors will be coached by the ballet teachers on faculty, including Annri Opitz-Kostick. 


This year, the Dance Team is composed of 10 students, with a trainee and an understudy cast to train alongside and learn the ins-and-outs of the team. None of the current members of the Dance Team have ever attended a formal competition. 


Ms. Opitz-Kostick sees this as a learning opportunity for all involved. 


“I think honestly from my experience of taking dancers to competitions, it really pushes them and it helps them understand what they have to do. If this is what they want to do in the future, [it shows them] what they have to do to become a better dancer,” she said. 


She went on to explain that dance competitions will offer unique and beneficial experiences to those pursuing a career as a professional dancer. 


“Exposure to teachers, schools, and companies like YAGP is great because when you go, you meet teachers who might be in your next audition and might remember you from the competition. Making connections is super important in our field, so I want the dancers to have that.”


Dance Team member Ellie Chung ‘26 believes that she has become more diverse as a dancer because of the Jazz and Commercial Dance training.


Last year, when I did the Jazz and Street [styles] for Dance Team, it looked very ballet[ic],” she confessed. “I looked so awkward, but I feel like constantly going to the practices helped me break out of that more.”


Chung ‘26, who is in her second year on the team, reflected on her experiences positively. 


“I got to meet a lot of new people, like upperclassmen, that I could look up to,” she said. “Now, it’s something I’m planning to do for the rest of my high school years.”


Interested audiences can watch the Dance Teams perform at Spotlight Dance Cup from May 31-June 2 at the Leeward Community College Theatre.


Annri Opitz-Kostick wishes to inform readers that auditions for the 2024-2025 competition teams will be held on July 6 at the Flanders Dance Pavilion. Times are as follows:


9 – 11 a.m. Dance Team (grades 7 – 12)

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Mini Dance Team (grades 3 – 6)

12:30 – 2 p.m. Youth America Grand Prix Competitive Soloists (grades 6 – 12)

Any additional questions can be directed to [email protected] or (808)-943-3611. 

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