Punahou Dance School

Punahou has one of Hawai`i's largest dance academies for grades K – 12. It offers not only a wide variety of dance styles, but also a range from introductory to the most challenging of levels, and all classes are open to the public. The Dance School features:

  • After school classes in Ballet, Jazz and Street Dance, Musical Theatre and Tap
  • Summer session featuring the popular Dance Awareness program for grades 2 – 8
  • Three state-of-the-art dance studios
  • An outstanding dance faculty

The program is serious and comprehensive, teaching students to love dance and providing sufficient foundation for further artistic pursuits. The discipline, perseverance and intelligence required to succeed in the performing arts serves the students well in other aspects of their lives, both in and out of the classroom. The Dance School cultivates and promotes these character traits, and fosters an abiding appreciation for dance and the performing arts.

After School Dance

The After School program is based on a three-year cycle. During the first year of this cycle, classes focus on dance technique. The second year includes learning choreography designed to showcase each class level, ending in an informal "pau hana" (end of work) concert on stage with simple costumes. In the third year, students participate in a "triennial" recital, with an original story, elaborate costumes, and professionally designed sets and lighting.

Summer School Dance

Over a five-week period during the summer, the dance school offers many of the same dance courses as the regular school year. Classes are held earlier in the afternoon, and in the morning a survey course is offered for students in grades 2 – 8 called "Dance Awareness", which exposes them to ballet, jazz, musical theatre, tap and Polynesian dance.


All classes are held in the Josephine Flanders Dance Pavilion located on upper campus. Named after the Dance School's founder, this state-of-the-art facility was completed in 2008 and is one of the finest of its kind. There are three separate studios, two of which can be combined into one larger space. Each studio is equipped with the latest sound equipment and dance flooring.




The Dance School encourages (but does not require) all its students to study ballet, because the "classical technique" taught in ballet classes is the foundation of nearly all stage dance. Classical technique was developed in 17th century France, and although there are various ways of teaching classical dance, the terminology and the positions themselves are pretty much the same today. There are five basic positions of the arms and legs, and every ballet step is accomplished by relying on one or more of these basic positions. The objective is twofold: (1) to place the body in a certain position as to present the most pleasing line to the audience; and (2) to align the muscles and skeletal structure in a manner that will enable the dancer to execute the step most efficiently, gracefully and without injury.

In a typical ballet class the teacher will use exercises or "combinations" of steps showing the dancer how to use these basic positions while moving. The student begins with simple exercises of the legs, feet and arms while holding onto a horizontal support called a barre. These exercises are intended to align the body correctly and warm up the muscles and joints. The next portion of dance class is called centre, in which dancers practice some of the same steps executed at the barre, and then move across the floor, practicing glides, jumps and turns.

All students are placed in classes according to their ages, ability and prior experience. Beginning ballet classes teach basic vocabulary and classical positions. When students develop proper body placement (i.e., alignment of their torso, hips, legs and feet), they begin to execute more complex steps and combinations of steps. They also learn proper placement of their arms (port de bras) and heads, in coordination with their movement.

Because classical training is so precise and rigorous, the ballet dancer learns to be dedicated and disciplined in her approach to this art. We also expect our ballet students to be "intelligent" dancers, to think while they dance, understanding the principles of technique, rather than merely executing shapes and steps by rote imitation. Thus, ballet is as much an exercise in character, as it is for physical and artistic training and creativity.


Beginning Ballet I

For K – grade 1. Introduction to basic ballet vocabulary, floor stretches and simple dance movement (e.g., tendu, port de bras), using familiar children's fairy tales and stories.

Beginning Ballet II

For Grades 1 – 2. No prerequisite class. Expanding basic ballet vocabulary and teaching somewhat more complex dance movement. Introduction to working at the barre.

Beginning Ballet III

For Grades 2 – 4. Prerequisite: at least one year of previous ballet experience. Barre exercises emphasizing classical form and placement. Introduction to leaps and chaine turns in center.

Intermediate Ballet I

For students in Grades 2 – 3 continuing from Beginning Ballet classes, and entry level for Grades 4 – 6 without prior ballet experience. More detailed lessons in classical ballet positions and technique at the barre (e.g., turnout, hip placement). Introduction to more complex combinations in centre.

Intermediate Ballet II

For students in Grades 3 – 6 continuing from Intermediate Ballet I, and entry level for Grades 7 – 12 without prior ballet experience. Basic classical ballet positions, emphasizing upper body placement, head and arm coordination, articulated use of the feet and legs. Introduction to pirouettes and petite allegro in centre exercises.

Intermediate Ballet III

For students in Grades 4 – 12 who have progressed from Intermediate Ballet II. By permission only (general prerequisite: Intermediate Ballet II). More detailed and rigorous exercises at the barre. Introduction to adagio extensions and grande allegro in centre.

Intro to Intermediate/Advanced Ballet

For Grades 5 – 12; general prerequisite is Intermediate Ballet II or III. A major step up from prior classes: the first hour and a half class, with a full 45-minute barre and more complex, 45-minute centre, with adagio, pirouettes, petite allegro, moving turns and grande allegro.

Intermediate/Advanced Ballet

For students in Grades 6 – 12 who have progressed from prior levels. By permission only; prerequisite class is generally Intro to Intermediate/Advanced Ballet. This is a 1-1/2 hour class, with a full barre and centre. Many students take at least two 1-1/2 hour ballet classes per week, and often remain at this level for two years or more.

Pointe I

By permission of instructor only; general prerequisite is enrollment in at least two Intermediate/Advanced Ballet classes per week (Pointe I is a third class). Introduction to dancing en pointe, concentrating on working the feet and legs, body placement.

Advanced Ballet

By permission of instructor only; general prerequisite is enrollment in at least two Intermediate/Advanced Ballet classes or an Intermediate/Advanced Ballet class and Pointe II class, in addition to this class.

Pointe II

By permission only; general prerequisite is having taken Pointe I and current enrollment in at least two other demi-pointe classes. This is the highest level of pointe work offered by the Dance School.

Jazz Dance


As its name implies, jazz dance is performed to the syncopated rhythms of jazz music. It originated in America and has evolved into many sub-categories, each of which is heavily dependent upon and influenced by the music. Hence, jazz dance can range from the highly stylized choreography of Broadway musicals (e.g, Pajama Game, West Side Story) to the funky hip-hop movements associated with Street Dance. Notwithstanding the free-form movement of jazz, students are encouraged (but are not required) to study ballet as a foundation for jazz training.


Jr. Jazz I

Introduction to jazz for Grades 2 – 6, stressing coordination, placement and flexibility. This level is designed to focus on the basics of jazz dance, breaking down movements and skills necessary for this dance form.

Jr. Jazz II

Beginning/intermediate level for Grades 4 – 8. Prerequisite: at least one year of jazz or ballet training. Continues development of jazz technique, building strength and coordination.

Lyric Jazz

Introductory level for Grades 6 – 12 (no prerequisite). A class in basic jazz movement and technique, emphasizing coordination, placement, flexibility and musicality.

Jr. Jazz III

Intermediate level class for Grades 6 – 8. Prerequisite: two or more years of jazz or ballet training. Introduction to turns and leaps while continuing to stress placement, flexibility and coordination.

Fast Intermediate Jazz

Intermediate/advanced level for Grades 7 – 12. Prerequisite: three or more years of jazz or ballet training; enrollment subject to teacher approval. Introduces multiple turns, basic tricks and leaps, with an emphasis on movements requiring speed, strength and proper body placement.

Intermediate/Advanced Jazz

More advanced level for Grades 7 – 12. Prerequisite: Fast Intermediate Jazz; enrollment subject to teacher approval. Continues with more advanced jazz dance technique, multiple turns, tricks and leaps, movements requiring speed, strength and placement.

Advanced Jazz

Highest level of jazz training for Grades 9 – 12. Prerequisite: Intermediate/ Advanced Jazz; enrollment subject to teacher approval. Introduction to a variety of jazz styles (e.g., Broadway dance, ethnic, contemporary), more advanced combinations and choreography, turns, tricks, leaps, etc. Students are encouraged to study classical (ballet) technique before and during enrollment in this class.

Contemporary Jazz Choreography

Intermediate/Advanced level for Grades 6 – 12. includes contemporary jazz technique and skill development, improvising and choreographing. Each week’s class centers around a conceptual theme and includes somatics/experiential anatomy, technical development, whole-body expression through combinations and co-creation. Previous experience in ballet or jazz at the intermediate or advanced level is recommended.

Tap Dance


Tap Dance is an original American art form, born in the mid 1800s. A blend of European dance and intricate African steps and rhythms, it requires the percussive musical ability of a drummer and the strength, balance, flexibility and overall body control of a ballet or jazz dancer. Two distinct schools of Tap are explored in this curriculum - Classic Tap, which incorporates ballet and jazz technique, and Rhythm Tap, which emphasizes footwork with less emphasis on upper body and arm movements.


Beginning Tap

For K – grade 1. Young tappers explore elementary dance steps in general and build an awareness of their body and their instrument, the tap shoe.

Tap I

Introduction to tap for Grades 1 – 2 mastering beginning level tap steps (e.g., shuffles, flaps) and simple rhythmic patterns. No prerequisite class.

Tap II

Entry level for beginning tappers Grades 6 – 12. Grade 2 – 5 students with prior tap experience may enroll with permission of the instructor. Expanded vocabulary of Classic Tap steps and combinations, requiring greater coordination and attention to rhythmic patterns. Mastering simple time steps.


Intermediate level for Grades 3 – 12. Prior tap experience required. Increasing vocabulary of steps and combinations in the Classic Tap style and an introduction to Rhythm Tap.

Tap IV

Intermediate/advanced level for Grades 4 – 12. Calls on a total dance experience; incorporating body movements and technique from ballet and jazz dance with the rhythm and vocabulary of tap. Prerequisite: at least two years experience in tap. Background in ballet or jazz helpful.

Advanced Tap

Advanced level for Grades 5 – 12. For the experienced tapper with some background in ballet or jazz. Exploring all styles of tap: Soft Shoe, Buck and Wing, Charleston, Rhythm Tap. Mastery of time steps, tap tricks, turns and complex step patterns and rhythms. By permission only; general prerequisite is Tap IV.

Tap Company

Tap Company is an honors program available to talented students who show particular interest in the art of tap dancing, emphasizing choreography and performance skills. It includes an annual Christmas show and other performance opportunities:

  • Keiki Tap Co. For Grades 1 – 3. By invitation only.

  • Jr. Tap Co. I For Grades 4 – 9. By invitation only.

  • Jr. Tap Co. II For Grades 5 – 10. By invitation only.

  • Sr. Tap Co. For Grades 9-12. By invitation only.

Street Dance


Street Dance (often called "hip-hop") is a generic term applied to popular dance forms which have evolved from movement performed by trained and untrained dancers on the "street", in alleys and similar venues. It is derived from jazz dance and is highly personal to the individual choreographer and dancer. Here it is taught as a formalized performance or stage dance, with specific movements, steps and styles.


Jr. Street Dance I

Introduction to hip-hop basics for Grades 2 – 3. Learning to move to rhythm, hitting beats and strengthening arms and legs. Some emphasis on aspects of breaking.

Jr. Street Dance II

Beginning/intermediate level for Grades 3 – 4 (entry level for Grade 5 – 6). Prerequisite: none. Continues development of street dance technique, building strength, rhythm and coordination. More emphasis on performing skills.

Jr. Street Dance III

Intermediate level class for Grades 5 – 6 (entry level Grades 7 – 8). Prerequisite: none, but two or more years of jazz or street dance training suggested. Greater emphasis on upper body strength, speed and quickness in execution of steps, rhythm, flexibility and coordination.

Street Dance I

Intermediate/advanced level for Grades 6 – 12. Prerequisite: Jr. Street Dance III; enrollment subject to teacher approval. More advanced training in funky dance tricks and steps, level changes and isolations, continued emphasis on movements requiring speed, strength and flexibility.

Street Dance II

Most advanced level of street dance for Grades 9 – 12. Prerequisite: Street Dance I; enrollment subject to teacher approval. Introduction to the most current street dance forms and trends. Introduction to new choreography, with emphasis on showmanship, agility and development of your own performance style. Continued training in tricks, steps, speed and strength.

Musical Theatre


Musical Theatre is a form of stage performance (often called a "musical") which combines music, singing, dancing and dialogue to convey a story or the emotional content of the work. Musicals are performed all around the world, especially in centers on Broadway (New York City) and the West End (London), as well as in schools and community and regional stages. Some famous musicals include South Pacific, West Side Story, Oklahoma, Phantom of the Opera, and A Chorus Line.

The musical theater program at Punahou Dance School is designed to provide a foundation for students in the combined disciplines of dance, acting, and vocal performance. Using traditional and contemporary Broadway music and choreography, students with prior training will enhance their dance education by learning to develop character and storytelling elements in performance. Those new to the discipline will receive a broad and exciting introduction to American musical theater.


Beginning Musical Theatre

For K – grade 1. Introduction to all three components of musical theatre: movement, singing and acting. Focus is on basic dance steps, simple formations and the ability to express various emotions.

Musical Theatre I

Beginning level for grade 1. No prerequisite. Focus on basic dance steps, beginning vocal techniques, and acting exercises. Introduction to simple musical theatre staging.

Musical Theatre II

Intermediate level for grade 2. Prior dance classes (e.g., ballet, jazz, tap) preferred. Focus on integrating all three components of musical theater with emphasis on performing and storytelling. The class also teaches timing, rhythm, musicality and performance.

Musical Theatre III

Intermediate level for grades 2 – 4. Prior experience in any dance discipline required. Focus on balancing each component of Musical Theatre in a performance level production number. Emphasis also on musicality, physicality & vocal performance.

Musical Theatre IV

Intermediate/Advanced level for grades 4 – 8. Prior dance experience required; enrollment is subject to teacher's approval. Students will be taught adaptions of original choreography and staging from various Broadway musicals, capturing the style expressed by each professional choreographer in these classic musical theater production numbers.


Dance School Office
Montague Hall
808.944.5829 Tel
Hours: M – F, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.



Kristin Aune
Director, Dance School


Wendy Shimamoto
Dance School Administrative Assistant
808.944.5829 Tel