Eric Wada, artistic director and co-founder of Ukwanshin, is the first male outside Okinawa to have passed all levels of the prestigious Geino Konkuru, a series of performing arts tests administered in Okinawa. He graduated from the Okinawa Prefectural Performing Arts University with a scholarship from the Okinawan government. Bearer of the title of kyoushi (instructor), Wada heads the Hawaii branch of the Tamagusuku Ryu Shosetsu Kai, teaching traditional Ryukyuan dance in Honolulu. On Maui, he teaches Okinawan musical instruments, Eisa, and shishimai (lion dance), history, culture, and language. He was a featured dancer in David Ward’s Dancequake which was presented at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, and also toured Hawai`i Island and Honolulu. He is currently researching and teaching the obscure arts and traditions of Okinawa villages. In addition to the American English language, Wada is fluent in Japanese and functional in Okinawan and Hawaiian.
Keith Nakaganeku began uta-sanshin at the age of eight under his grandfather’s tutelage and by the age of fourteen, was one of the first US-born Okinawan musicians to earn the first-level certificate in the Geino Konkuru in Okinawa. He currently holds the title of kyoshi (instructor) and is the chapter president of the longest-standing Okinawan music association in Hawai`i, the Nomura Ryu Ongaku Kyo Kai Hawaii Shibu. Also a student of Harry Seisho Nakasone, Nakaganeku is not only a former recipient of the SFCA apprenticeship, but also served twice on its selection committee. He teaches private lessons in Honolulu and teaches regularly in Maui and on Hawai`i island. A versatile musician and vocalist, Nakaganeku is the lead vocalist and ukulele player for his muti-genre/cross-culture band, Calabash. He produced and released the band’s first album, “Hawaiian Jazz Done Asian Style”, which features four different languages and his award-winning Hawaiian falsetto.