Arts Corps is an amazing and innovative non-profit that revolutionizes arts education by igniting the creative power of young people through culturally engaging learning experiences. Alongside my role as ha'api'i (or ra'atira) at Huraiti Mana, I am also a Master Teaching Artist with Arts Corps. Each year, I teach after-school hula in my class titled "Hula Mai 'Oe" in Burien's Hazel Valley Elementary. Now, Arts Corps is holding it's first-ever Art & Sol community event and fundraiser.
We invite you to join us at this all-ages, family-friendly party, showcasing the creativity of the Arts Corps family of staff, teaching artists, young people, and board members.
I will be performing Ori Tahiti dance!
Purchase your tickets today and support this amazing organization and all of its talented and passionate teaching artists. Mahalo nui!
Huraiti Mana will be hosting multiple workshops and performing Ori Tahiti as a part of Rock the Lot - Island Edition. This is the second annual Rock the Lot event put on by The Outlet Collection in Auburn. This year's event is dedicated to raising funds for those affected by Madam Pele's power on Hawai'i island. Join us for a full day of festivities highlighting our Polynesian communities with music, food, and dance here in Auburn, and support our Polynesian communities back at home.
Sunday, July 15, 2018 | 11AM - 6PM
Other performances and vendors include my sister-in-law's Jessie's Fit Club(!), Arden Fujiwara, The Ohana Band, and many more! The full schedule will be coming out, soon!
Northwest Share in partnership with the Vedic Cultural Center held its first annual Festival of Compassion for Seattle's houseless population, providing free food and a line-up of high-energy performances including Huraiti Mana, Northwest Tap Connection, LQ Lion Dance, and many more. Everyone should have access to events such as these where we share in food, music, and dance, connecting with everyone that makes up our home. As someone who has travelled here from the islands and now calls Seattle home, I hope that this home can be shared - equally - by all. Mahalo nui loa to Northwest Share, Vedic Cultural Center, and Latha Sambamurti for your amazing work in our communities. Mahalo and mauruuru roa!
It was such a fun opportunity to share a brief snapshot of the life I've created for myself - a life full of passions and communities; a life full of laughter and shared stories. The Cool Job column of the Jobs Section focuses on folks in the greater Seattle area who have interesting and unique positions in the workforce. The Seattle Times kindly highlighted both online and in the Sunday paper the trade I've built for myself as a unique leader in Polynesian Dance. It's refreshing and enlightening to see this particular dance community recognized in a section of our society as something more than the token "cultural," "ethnic," or "diversity" piece. In addition to being itself a cultural work, a position as a Polynesian dance advocate and ha'api'i is recognized as a full-fledged career in this weekly Job section. With this article, I hope others realize that their artistic, cultural work, can be shared in a way to create a sustainable career, a career they truly love. That's fulfilling stuff!
Vicky Holt Tokamine, renowned Kumu Hula of Hālau Hula Pua Ali'i 'Ilima, in this short video inspires her students and communities to use their knowledge and skills of their culture to create their careers. She is a professor, a Kumu Hula, and a Hawaiian cultural advocate, sharing her mana'o or knowledge through many different avenues. She has inspired me to use my creativity and perseverance and continue as a cultural ambassador for my people. For so many generations, Hula and Ori Tahiti have been through turmoil: forbidden and taken from ancestors, then appropriated and bastardized by colonizing cultures, and now demanded for entertainment. But now, we reclaim it, and in reclaiming our dance and its heritage, use it for the benefit of our livelihood and connecting with those around us.
I am proud to serve the communities of which I am a part. And this is just the beginning. I will continue to find more ways to connect with the Polynesian and Pacific Islander communities of Seattle through dance, discussion, workshops, performances, and more. Imua e nā pōki'i!
Highline High School kindly invited Huraiti Mana back again, and this time, to celebrate the amazing achievements of the graduating seniors who are headed off to colleges across the nation in their formal College Day event! I am so proud of the staff that has put on such an important tradition for this school. Similar to Sports Day when many young athletes celebrate the professional sports teams they are joining, College Day is meant to celebrate students' next step toward pursuing their education - a feat just as momentous, daunting, and rewarding.. Shout out to the young student headed to Seattle University (my alma mater) and the two headed to Stanford! E ho'omaika'i nō! Congratulations!
Huraiti Mana was invited to participate in a multi-cultural showcase reflecting the diverse population of students (shout out to my islanders!). I performed "He Hawai'i Au," which is a song expressing the journey to finding and understanding oneself, something I hope that each of these many students come to understand as they embark on their own journeys of self discovery. That though the journey may be difficult, they can always look within and know who they are.
I kēia pō eia au me ʻoe
Kēia pō ua hoʻi mai au
He loa ka helena ma ke ala hele
E huli i wahi ma kēia ao
Maopopo a ua ʻike hoʻi
Ka home i loko o kuʻu puʻuwai
Ua hoʻi mai au, ke ʻike nei au
ʻAʻole au e ʻauana hou
Ke maopopo he Hawaiʻi au
Tonight I am here with you
Tonight, I have returned
Long was my journey on the path
To seek a place in this world
I now clearly see and understand
The home within my heart
I returned when I realized this
I will not wander again
For I understand, I am Hawaiian
My sister and I are the only of our Native Hawaiian family to attend a four-year university and earn a Bachelor's degree. For many of the students celebrated at this College Day event, they are the first in their families to attend college. But, we will not be the last. This opportunity not afforded to so many in our family and so many more in our island homes cannot be reserved for so few. Imua e nā pōkiʻi! We are here for you on this journey.
Our day at Northwest Folklife 2018 was so full of life, love, and connectedness, that we didn't have a moment to take a proper group photo! I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to meet so many bright (and then sweaty) faces as we danced it out under the sun in the early morning session for children at the outdoor Seattle Center Discovery Zone; and then, again, as we danced indoors at the Armory Loft Room 3 later in the afternoon. At the Discovery Zone, I fortunately welcomed a young Alaka'i (leader) to the stage who joined me for the entire workshop. She asked poignant questions related to Disney's recent Moana. "Are you Moana? You look like Moana."
To this I always answer with a smile. "Moana looks like me."
It's true. Our people, Polynesians, settled in the islands of the Pacific as early as the 3rd Century, over 1,800 years ago. The directors of Moana visited our islands and asked our elders to share our stories. My Alaka'i preceded to ask me then about the legends in Moana - Maui? Teka? And so, I told the legends I learned as a child, the legend of Maui and how he snared the sun atop Haleakalā, the house of the sun. Of Teka, I told her the legend of Pele who sailed from Tahiti with her brother Kamohoali'i leading the way; Pele, whose volcanic powers were in full force on Hawai'i island, today. Mahalo nui loa, e young Alaka'i, for your inspiration and for guiding me back to the stories of my people.
In the second workshop, the Armory room filled with over 60 participants, mostly adults, and many who were a part of our islander and hula-dancing community in Seattle. It was such a pleasure to see so many familiar faces and so many new. We discussed the Hawaiian heart or na'au, of speaking with truth; brief lessons of Hawaiian history and language; and my kuleana or responsibility to continue learning and sharing the practice of my people, an opportunity not afforded to my own Native Hawaiian mother due to the affects of colonization and intolerance. So, today we dance. We also looked over the language and story of Ho'opuka E Ka Lā Ma Ka Hikina, a hula ka'i whose powers summon for the blessings of the gods to connect with us on this land. Mahalo nui loa for all the hula 'olapa and the nā haumāna hou who joined us this day. I hope to dance together again, soon! A hui hou.
Join Kalei'okalani of Huraiti Mana as we host a Hula Cultural Workshop as a part of Northwest Folklife! Last year's festival, we filled the Armory Center with a room of hula. We're excited to be back, and with two different workshop sessions this year. Join us at either, or at both! As we'll tell different stories and focus on various hula basics. Bring clothes you can move in - and your bare feet!
Sunday, May 27th @ 12PM | Seattle Center Discover Zone
Sunday, May 27th @ 2:15PM | Seattle Center Armory Loft #3
Check out the full schedule for Northwest Folklife and enjoy the many, many groups participating in the 47th year celebration!
We circle back to an entire year of work and dedication culminated in a first anniversary performance of Huraiti Mana at the API Heritage Month Celebration! We were excited to share with our family, friends, and community that we are united in the efforts to perpetuate and celebrate our cultures, our stories, and our spirits. We opened our performance with hula kahiko, a traditional and ancient form of hula, percussion, and chant, honoring our Queen and last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Ke Ali'i Lili'uokalani. We moved into a hula 'auana number with contemporary musical instruments and melodic tunes with Justin Young's rendition of a hula classic, Ka Manu. And we finished our performance with ori Tahiti or Tahitian dance, including choreography to Moemoea by Sefa. Friends and family in the Seattle Center joined us onstage and rounded out our performance with a fast lesson in Tahitian dance. Our finale always brings smiles and laughs, but for myself, it also brings a joyous empathy and compassion. Joining together in dance is what I strive most for in this life, no matter how briefly. Dance connects us all.
Immediately after leaving the stage, we jumped in to a quick interview with API Heritage Month, and our huraiti so kindly, and with so much aloha, shared their spirits. Huraiti Mana is about empowerment, about self awareness and self expression. It is about 'ohana - our family. It is about us all. I am so very grateful to be a part of this growing, evolving, inspiring, loving, and caring 'ohana.
During our lei-making workshop that followed the performance, Sam Le of the Northwest Asian Weekly circled to our tables and asked, "why is it important to celebrate your heritage?"
"It is important to celebrate our heritage because it breathes life and meaning into our identities and our knowledge of who we are. It is always important to explore the past and see how our heritage is with us today."
This past year has been an amazing year filled with learning, compassion, dedication, and inspiration. Ia vai e Huriati Mana! Ei aha roa to oe hiro'a e ia mo'e e to'u nuna'a! May you always have the consciousness of your origin. I will always remember how we became a family, and how we will continue to be so today and furthermore. Mauruuru roa e nā Huraiti no tou aroha.
It's our anniversary performance event! This time last year, Huraiti Mana pulled together our first performance since opening public dance classes. Now, we are excited to return to Seattle Center again as a part of the API Heritage Festival of Seattle. Mahalo nui loa to the dedicated team of volunteers who make this community event possible. And mahalo nui for inviting Huraiti Mana to be able to share in this meaningful celebration of dance, culture, language, and arts of some of the many people comprised in the Asian Pacific Islander communities. Huraiti Mana will represent Hawai'i and Tahiti in our Polynesian dance troupe performance of hula and ori Tahiti or Tahitian dance.
1:15PM Dance performance at the Seattle Center Armory Room
2:00PM Lei Lā'ī - Lei-Making station
Mahalo to everyone at U.T.O.P.I.A. Seattle - the United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance. Huraiti Mana celebrated with this amazing organization at their lū'au celebration: A Journey Through Pasifika. Huraiti Mana represented Hawai'i and Tahiti islands with performances of hula and ori Tahiti or Tahitian dance to end this festive night in Burien, Washington. Mahalo to Taffy and to everyone who poured their hearts and soul into making a powerful evening of visibility and connection. Ia vai e U.T.O.P.I.A. and the entire LGBTQA community of the Pacific Kingdom!