Kimi Takazawa and Ballet Hawaii celebrate Christmas with unique televised version of 'The Nutcracker'

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Dec. 12—Kimi Takazawa graduated from Punahou School, earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at Columbia University in New York City, and then an Associate of Applied Science degree in interior design from the Parsons School of Design in Greenwich Village. She also studied Japanese language and culture at Sophia University in Tokyo. The breadth of her studies were a solid foundation for her successful career in advertising, public relations and working with community organizations here in Hawaii.

Earlier this fall, Takazawa, 51, became executive director of Ballet Hawaii, where she is responsible for long-term planning and guiding the culture of the well-­respected legacy arts organization.

The pandemic and its aftershocks make these challenging times for Ballet Hawaii. Yet its teaching staff and students are returning to in-person classes in a new 7, 000-square-foot facility at Dole Cannery in Iwilei. This month, it celebrates Christmas with its unique televised version of Tchaikovsky's seasonal classic, "The Nutcracker."

Ballet Hawaii shifted the tale's setting from the home of a wealthy family in late 19th-century Germany to Washington Place, the Honolulu home of Mary Dominis, in the year 1858. The changes—including "Hawaiian-izing " almost everything in Act II—were a tremendous makeover, but choreography by the renowned Septime Webre and Pamela Taylor-Tongg, Ballet Hawaii's artistic director, plus Tchaikovsky's glorious score, maintained the traditional spirit of the beloved classic.

In 2020, Ballet Hawaii presented "Nutcracker " as a television special, using archival footage of previous productions that included performances by Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz, Lesley Rausch, Lucien Postlewaite, Margaret Severin-Hansen and Richard Krusch. It repeats this year, with the new footage added, at 7 p.m. Dec. 18 and 25 on KITV.

The restrictions on public gatherings couldn't be lifted in time for Ballet Hawaii to present a live "Nutcracker " this year, but the special is also a final opportunity to enjoy the work of some island favorites—Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz dancing their pas de deux, in particular. How do the "hana hou " broadcasts fit in your plans for Ballet Hawaii ?

This year the broadcast is presented by Ballet Hawaii, the Hawaii Theatre Center and the Hawai 'i Symphony Orchestra, so people can tune in while they're having their holiday festivities. But for the future, the more we can cooperate, especially the nonprofits working together, the more we can come back stronger in bringing live performing arts to the community.

How did you get involved with Ballet Hawaii ?

A friend who was previously on the board knew they were looking for a new executive director, so she called. That's just totally the Hawaii local way. I love it.

What's Ballet Hawaii's next big event ?

We have three. We're planning for our winter gala Feb. 11 at the Royal Hawaiian. We're also preparing to present "The Stars of American Ballet "—Daniel Ulbricht and his group—on March 12. And we're also bringing back our three-week Summer Intensive course. We welcome local dancers, and we also attract a lot of national and international students as well. That's really, really exciting for us.

What keeps you busy outside of Ballet Hawaii ?

I have two sons. One just went off to college during the pandemic, and the other is a junior (in high school ) and just got his driver's license. It's really an exciting and interesting time because of the "letting go " factor of a mom. You're so excited for them because there's so much out there ... in the world for them to do, but you're sad (too ). It's kind of bittersweet.