Youths take center stage

What started in November 2009 as an outreach program to address Furlough Fridays has grown into an organization that does so much more.

“They didn’t have school for kids, and we started out with free classes,” explains Dancers Unlimited founder Linda Kuo. “A lot of arts and dance programs are being cut out of public schools, and we’re focusing on bringing the movement back to the youths.”

While Furlough Fridays have ended, Dancers Unlimited continues to work with keiki, thanks to partnerships with organizations like Kamaaina Kids. Dancers Unlimited doesn’t have a home base, but Kuo wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We never intended to be a dance studio,” she says. “We like collaborating with different studios. With Dancers Unlimited, our focus is a little different.”

The organization produces outreach programs, educational classes and professional performances.

Another important aspect of Dancers Unlimited is its goal to bring more attention to local dancers.

“Especially the professional ones,” adds Kuo. “We discovered, for dancers in Hawaii, professional opportunities are lacking. There are a lot of great studios (that) train beautiful dancers, but once you get to a certain level, there aren’t any paying jobs.”

Kuo, who danced professionally in New York, aims to use her company to fly Hawaii dancers to the East Coast to work with Dancers Unlimited, New York chapter.

Kuo’s passion also led her to start National Dance Week Hawaii, an annual event that brings dancers together to celebrate the art through quality education.

As it celebrates its five-year anniversary, Dancers Unlimited invites the public to party Jan. 31 at The Art Zone on Pali Highway.

Tickets cost $25 for floor seating, $35 for chair seating and $50 VIP, which includes one free beverage, front-row seats and a gift bag. Purchase tickets online at shows.

Dance performances, a movie screening and an open sushi bar are all part of the event. According to Kuo, the film (Curators Volume 2) focuses on hip-hop dance and tells stories of legendary dancers in the genre. All proceeds from the event will go toward Dancers Unlimited’s outreach programs, including National Dance Week Hawaii, scholarship trips to New York or Los Angeles, and after-school dance classes. For more information and for tickets, visit