Every workshop is different. Every workshop spent in the Armory Court on behalf of Huraiti Mana is a different experience. They're each exciting and each a beautiful moment of community. Today, I returned to participate in the 5th Annual Seattle Children's Festival, Saturday, September 22, 2018. But no matter how many times we return to the Seattle Center with Northwest Folklife, I learn something new and amazing, whether it be the curiosities of children, the insight they have, the understanding they possess for their cultures and cultures not of their own in our storytelling workshops; or whether it be the cultural exchange shared among people of all walks of life in our kahiko and language workshops. I am so grateful to those who organize the many events Northwest Folklife creates year-round - all free, all jam-packed with cultural performances, and all the perfect family outing excursion. Mahalo nui loa for your community work and dedication to building our families in Seattle!
Event: Lei-Making Workshop
Date: Sunday, November 11, 2018
Time: 11:00AM - 1:30PM
Location: Wing Luke Museum 719 S King St, Seattle, WA 98104
Fresh flowers, fragrant greens, and endless results. Join us!
One of the four Pacific Islander artists featured in the Wing Luke Museum’s Visions of Pasifika Light from Another World, artist and lei-weaver Kalei'okalani will direct a 2.5-hour lei-making workshop with fresh lau and pua (leaves and flowers), woven together in the wili or wrap style at the Wing Luke Musuem in Seattle's Chinatown-International District.
Participants will learn about the significance of lei-making and how this Polynesian tradition is integral in the perpetuation of cultural values. This is a challenging exercise and is recommended for 12+. No experience necessary.
Lei are not simply decorative pieces; they share a spiritual connection with and are representative of the land they come from, the people who create them, and the people for whom they are made. Lei is a cultural, personal, and spiritual exchange of aloha (love), mana (spiritual power), and mana'o (knowledge). Learn about how lei-making strengthens our connections to the land and to each other. Share in company, stories, and laughter in this labor of love.
What to bring:
Northwest Folklife is kindly inviting Huraiti Mana back again to participate in the Our Big Neighborhood summer series to bring hula to the Seattle Center! As an event sponsor, Families of Color Seattle presents Hula Dancing with Huraiti Mana for the 5th Annual Seattle Children's Festival on Saturday, September 22, 2018. Join us for a fun workshop full of Hawaiian story, history, song, and dance! Learn how we can all share in a deep connection with the land and with each other through the values of 'ohana (family), ha'aheo (pride), and aloha (love).
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!
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.
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.
We were so excited to announce Huraiti Mana's participation in Northwest Folklife's newest program Our Big Neighborhood and to be able to participate in their Movin' Around the World segment focused on Polynesia. This week marked the Spring Break for many schools in the nearby area, which meant lots of youth and families were able to come through Seattle Center. There, they could find program after program featuring teaching artists from across disciplines, across cultures, and for some - like Etienne of Gansango whom I met and learned was originally from West Africa - from across the globe.
The morning began with a generous invitation from Q13 Fox News to feature Huraiti Mana in their early morning live broadcast to help share the news of Northwest Folklife's youth event! I had the pleasure of meeting the beautiful, charismatic, energetic, super-real, and quick-witted Ellen Tailor. The Q13 Fox Morning Features Reporter and I talked-story about our heritage, her Greek background and my Native-Hawaiian, about the similarities of laughable language barriers, of appreciating our elders, and of a peoples' resilience.
My day continued with performances and workshops led by Halau 'O Napualani's Kumu Gloria and Bill Nahalea (both of whom also run the non-profit organization Pacific 'Ohana Foundation (POF)). It was so beautiful to see so many keiki (children) perform and help teach hula and Maori poi ball dancing! My hands were twitching the whole time - it's hard for a dancer to watch others and not feel compelled to join!
And following this, I had an absolutely amazing time meeting the bright faces and inquisitive minds of so many youth during Huraiti Mana's 45-minute hula workshop. There is Hawaiian proverb: a'a i ka hula. Dare to dance. And these youth danced unabashedly, learning kāholo, hela, and 'uwehe steps. They listened to my story as I recited "Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai" and danced. After watching intently and listening to nothing but 'ōlelo Hawa'i (Hawaiian language), they repeated to me the story they saw unfold before them; "in the beginning, you were looking at sea-waves," "and you loved it and shared it with everyone," "and the plants of the ocean smelled good." 'Ae. Pololei. They in turn stood to learn and perform this story - and they did so beautifully.
Questions followed after I left the stage and youth gathered around: "when you dance hula, how come you always dance with flowers?" "How come you dance barefoot when you're doing hula?" "Do you always dance hula?" Questions we look forward to addressing each day with Huraiti Mana.
Our sincerest mahalo to Anna and Leta of the Northwest Folklife team for having Huraiti Mana as a part of your innovative program to engage our youth and create empathy across the many cultures that create our big neighborhood in the Pacific Northwest.
Huraiti Mana was kindly invited by the College & Career Readiness team of the Highline School District to participate in the high school's Multilingual and multicultural career fair as a community career partner. Students sat down to an introduction to the fair's main themes: that multilingual skills and multicultural backgrounds are an invaluable asset to our everyday lives and can be used to help each of us thrive in our future endeavors. There are many creative opportunities out there for us multicultural people of color to achieve and in which to excel. Many students in our communities of color are soon to become the first in their families to graduate high school and the first to attend college. This endeavor is very exciting - but it can also be intimidating. So, Highline High School has been building ways to engage their students in networking opportunities to prepare them for their next chapter.
Following an introduction to our goals, students split into small groups and visited various tables of community partners to learn more about job opportunities, resources, and experiences. At the table for Huraiti Mana, as Rayann Kalei'okalani Onzuka, I shared about my experiences with Huraiti Mana as a business and cultural community partner, but I also shared about other organizations in which my cultural work has developed. Organizations including the Wing Luke Museum where I've exhibited my work and am also the Director of Museum Services; and Arts Corps, where I am a Master Teaching Artist instructing after-school hula classes. Students asked me questions about starting my own business, building skills for design and accounting, and why I chose particular majors to study in college. I was able to follow up with individual students after the fair, and it has been a tremendously rewarding experience.
It's been great to meet curious students and hear about their dreams: some wanted to begin a restaurant or food truck and others wanted some type of business "but I'm not sure what, just yet." I suggested joining clubs on campus to build resumes and receive "free professional training" in a way; if you want to create a restaurant someday, become your club's Food Logistics Chair and learn about permits, licensing, and catering for your club's annual food-centered fundraiser. Or, if you don't want to begin a business, there are other ways to be creative; such as suggesting a new job position at your organization, one that will be mutually beneficial and fits your unique skill set. Although conversations were short with only an hour and six career partners to visit (including Seattle Times, Interpreters, and more), they sparked inspiration and excitement - for students, but most definitely for myself as well. I realize there are many more ways to partner with the community and tabling opportunities would be great to continue!
Students shared feedback with organizers of the event:
Northwest Folklife has partnered with Seattle Center for a three-year venture called Our Big Neighborhood! Our Big Neighborhood will provide year-long opportunities for youth and families to participate in folk, ethnic, and traditional arts with multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary, and intergenerational programming. Huraiti Mana has loved joining Northwest Folklife and Seattle Children's Festival for their past programs, and we are so very excited to be a part of their first-ever Our Big Neighborhood events! Huraiti Mana will be hosting a hula dance workshop at the Seattle Center as a part of their Movin' Around the World celebration. Please enjoy this half-hour hula dance class where you'll see what a class with Huraiti Mana is like: filled with laughter, stories, and passionate work.