Class of 1980
By Kalei Mahi
Marla Hirokawa owns, manages, directs and is the primary choreographer for the Covenant Dance Studio and the Covenant Dance Theatre in New York City. She produces concerts and also does arts-in-education programs and dance residencies for schools in the area. She chose her career because she has always loved to dance. As a kid, she wanted nothing else. At first she didn’t plan to be a professional dancer and thought she might look into dance therapy or a field related to dance. But, in college she made the decision to be a professional dancer. She says that the ironic and funny thing is that she “planned” to become a professional dancer and did NOT want to be a teacher or choreographer, but after dancing professionally for a short time, she ended up becoming a teacher and choreographer and loves it. She received her BA in dance from the University of California at Irvine, but didn’t really prepare for her career until she went to NY and began dancing in small jobs, then bigger jobs and learning from experience.
She wears many hats: enjoying the ability to share the love of dance with others, hiring dancers for her next ballet, caring for the finances of the school, writing grants for the company, creating arts-in-education programs, cleaning the studio bathroom, re-organizing files, doing publicity photo shoots, making costumes, etc. She particularly loves the process of creating a story ballet and seeing it come to life onstage. She brought her dancers to Hawaii in July, 2003 with the Nisei Project, a dance tribute to her father and World War II Japanese American veterans.
Marla was part of the first graduating class of Waiäkea High in 1980. It was exciting because the school was still under construction and they were the only class. Marla says that if there is one thing she has learned over the past 43 years of her life is that life is about relationships. You can work and work (or study, study, study), but in the end what is most meaningful is the cultivation and maintaining of your relationship with God and with others.