The island state of Hawaii is one of the most culturally, ethnically, and spiritually blended societies in the nation. Hawaii’s human ecosystem is such a mixed breed of eastern and western ethnicities it becomes impossible to isolate any given race, and many who grow up in Hawaii do not experience racism the way others do in less diverse communities.
Such an upbringing of cultural diversity drew Artistic Director Cheryl Flaharty to the work of psychologist Carl Jung and philosopher Joseph Campbell - pioneers of new age wisdom and the archetypal imagery that is now a cornerstone in IONA’s highly visual work. This symbolic visual emphasis, rooted in the Japanese butoh dance form, has evolved IONA’s work to incorporate imagery as a means to demonstrate cultural and religious diversity.
Research for IONA’s first evening-length work, ‘The Mythology Of Angels’ (1992) discovered the archetype of the angel in multiple cultures as the connecting force between God and humans. The production features a gamut of angles from multiple cultures and mythologies, including several conceived by Flaharty. The final segment of the work surmises that extraterrestrial beings are a contemporary metaphor for the angel.