This poem was one of the earliest signs that I had decided to live after my husband Fred died.  It came a couple of years after his death in 1997.

The poem was inspired by a picture done by photographer Randy Jay Braun, a friend who made a career of making remarkable portraits of hula dancers, particularly those who lived on Maui.  I have a poster of it still hanging in my bedroom.

(The dancer in the photograph above is Haunani Pascua from Maui’s Halau Hula o ka Makani Wili Makaha o Kaua’ula.  Her teachers are kumu hula Keali’i Reichel and Uluwehi Guerrero.)

For me, hula is a metaphor for a particularly Hawaiian way of moving – with grace and beautiful intent, with meaning and mana in every movement.



The dancer at the edge of the water

Plays with the waves,

Following their movements

That wash across the sand.

In the glistening wet patterns,

Mirrors in the early morning light,

They reflect back the dancer

And her rhythmic movements

As she dips and bends and beckons

With her hands, her hips, her feet,

That recall the ancient patterns

As she dances for the old ones

And the ones who come after.


Her face is serene

And on her lips there is a smile

Of quiet joy and gentle remembering

And her movements flow like the waves

Of the moana that surrounds us,

That embraces and enfolds us,

And our gentle island home,

As she greets the day that is dawning,

As she celebrates the turning of the tide

On the sands of her birthplace

In the land that is her cradle,

She is dancing to her heartsong

And she flows like a wave

From another time.


The wet sands reflects the dancer in her glory;

The joy of her kupuna, she,

Her ancestors’ pride….

[created 27 April 1999]
by Netta Kanoho

Here’s a beautiful YouTube video by the Great Big Story video network about the dance’s most prestigious competition,  the annual Merrie Monarch Festival held on the Big Island.  The 2016 Miss Aloha Hula was Kayli Ka’iulani Carr.  As you can see from the video, she exemplifies the spirit of the dance….

Header Picture credit:  Hula — The Language of the Heart by Randy Jay Braun © 1993 [with permission from owner]



(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you…)



Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below.

16 thoughts on “A LIFE DANCE

  1. Your site is fantastic. I thought it would be difficult for the people whose first language is not English, like me, to understand and feel the meaning of poem written in English. But I got it, not only understand it, but it went deep in my heart. There are many great ideas for life. Your videos are special.

    1. Yousef, thank you for your visit and your comments. Please come again….

  2. Hi Netta, great poem.. I am not a poet but this is a beautiful poem to me. Is Hula dance a common dance in Hawaii? Where do Hula dance is usually performed? I think the dance is so flexible and it matches well with definition mana in every movement 🙂

    1. Hula originated in Hawaii, Richard. For a while it had to go underground because it was considered to be too sensual for missionary tastes. Because it was kept going by a number of practitioners, it made a supreme comeback when the times changed. Hula is a part of most hotel shows in Hawaii. There’s a big expat community of people who love all things Hawaiian in the Mainland and they do it — even in Las Vegas. There’s also some large contingents of practitioners all over the world — most notably in Japan. Most big local parties have hula as a feature of the entertainment as well. It’s HUGE! Thanks for your visit and your questions.

  3. What a beautiful poem!

    I also really loved the video. I found it particularly interesting that hula dancers, ballet dancers, Flamenco dancers, Russian traditional dancers and traditional Chinese dancers pay many of the same health costs to there knees and feet. It seems that this kind of fluid body movement dance crosses cultures and geographies. No matter where you are, or where you come from, this type of dance has evolved in its unique way.

    1. Hey Sheila:

      Thanks for your visit and your thoughts.  I do appreciate it, and I do agree that all dancers pay with their bodies for their art.

      Please do come again….

  4. Hey Netta,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading this blog as it’s very fun and interesting. I’m really sorry about your husband, it can be quite hard but I’m glad that you found something like this. This poem has provided me with lots of positive vibes and I can’t wait as to what you publish in the future.

    Thanks a lot for taking your precious time in writing this article. Keep up the good work Netta!

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, AV2001.  I am pleased you enjoyed the post.

      Please do come again.

  5. Seun Afotanju says:

    Thanks for this awesome post, This is one of my favourite poem. I love it because I think it is a perfection depiction of today’s society. People who are crazy or smart are looked to be lacking in some other aspect of life. I think we should celebrate our talents and uniqueness not try to be the same as everyone else doesn’t.

    1. Seun, thanks for your visit and for taking the time to comment.  I appreciate it.

      I agree that the ones who are “different” may be discounted because of it.  It is wonderful when they continue to do their own way, honoring their own talents and following their own heartsongs.  

      Please do come again….

  6. Reginald Gilbert says:

    I really like your poetry! Poetry is definitely a great way to express yourself. I love to write to express in my beliefs! I also like how you utilized video content also as it keeps the audience engaged! Great job writing your poetry and I hope the best for you and your website in the future!

    1. Thanks for the visit, Reginald.  I do appreciate your kind words.

      Please do come again.

  7. I have read a few of your postings and I love the insights into the Hawaiian way of life and language.  I have always been fascinated by the traditions and I love the musical sound of the language.  

    My regards to this poem, what a lovely story you’ve woven from this beautiful picture!  I feel like I know her.  Thank you for posting.

    1. Cynthia, welcome back.  Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do love that picture too!

      Please do come again.

  8. Emmanuel Emmato says:

    Great article.  I always enjoy your poems all the time.

    Poetry allows you to have some time and sit and ponder the ultimate question “meaning of our lives.” It gives us a constructive way to think about our lives and what we are doing, what we want to do, and how we may achieve it.

    Inspire yourself and others.                                                                                                                                                        

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Emmanuel.  I do appreciate it.

      Please do come again.

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