Sami L.A. Akuna is a director, performer, choreographer, and educator. Internationally Sami has performed and presented theater, dance, and performance art installations in Asia, Europe, North America, and across the Pacific. With over 30 years of professional experience, Sami has performed as principal dancer with Iona Contemporary Dance Theatre, is Artistic Director of Giinko Maraschino, and most recently collaborated with Jhalak Dance Company and Piko Dance Arts. Sami is also a recipient of the MAP Fund Award and the National Endowment for the Arts Award.
Sami holds a BA in Theater, a BFA in Dance, and an MFA in Asian Theatre Directing from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and has taught theater, dance, choreography, performance, drag artistry, and other courses at UHM and Leeward Community College. Sami began a career in Butoh and Drag in 1991, performing at various nightclubs, house parties, and non-traditional performance settings. Cocoa Chandelier, Sami’s alter ego, travels continuously as an advocate and spokesperson for HIV/AIDS, and is a long standing member with the United Territories of Pacific Islanders in Alliance that serves the Native Pacific Island and MVPFAFF+ community across the Hawaiian islands and the Pacific.