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A LIFE DANCE

A LIFE DANCE

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.


DANCER

 

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….

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

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