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