Karen Masaki

Volcano, HI


My primary focus is on the nonprofit arts community and foundations in Hawai’i.

Training / Education

I’ve been a modern dancer for over 40 years and have an MFA degree from the University of Hawai’i, Manoa. My undergraduate degree was from Oberlin College where I majored in psychology, studied piano in the conservatory, and began my dance training. After years of choreographing, performing and teaching, my life took an unexpected turn when I went to work for Hawai’i Community Foundation. There I learned about grant making and nonprofit organizations. I was the foundation’s culture and arts officer for 11 years.


My mother was a pianist; she instilled in me a love of music that informed my every step as a dancer. My garden is now an outlet for much of my creative energy, where I work to reintroduce native plant species, grow tea plants, and ensure our rainforest is healthy and able to sustain the native birds that flock here. As a newly licensed GYROKINESIS® instructor, my work with clients stimulates my creative juices as I tailor the work to meet each individual’s needs.


I’m a member of the Volcano Coquistadores, a volunteer group working to keep the Volcano area free of the invasive coqui frog. My responsibilities include walking my immediate neighborhood at night to listen for the frog, ensuring frogs are caught, and following up on grant opportunities to support the work of this community group.

Wishful Thinking

My dream is to build a small dance studio on our Volcano property, for wild dancing and more sedate GYROKINESIS® instruction and practice.


Many years ago, I studied with Daniel Nagrin, who was called the “great loner of American dance” by Dance Magazine. My studies with him in dance improvisation formed the foundation for all my subsequent work in this subset of dance performance. During Daniel’s summer residency at the University of Hawai’i in the early 1980s, Eddie Taketa and I partnered in – and won (!) – Daniel’s Annual Cakewalk contest as the ninja cakewalkers.


I bring observational skills, sensitivity to nuance, and attention to detail to my work as a consultant.