In my last blog post here on Celebrate, I shared a couple of lessons that I have learned from dancing hula. Hula has become so much more than a dance - it is a blueprint for living aloha. Here are a few more “hula lessons”.
Look for the kaona
Hawaiian songs have a literal translation and meaning. Most also have a kaona - a hidden or metaphorical meaning. Hawaiian language is very much a metaphorical language. There are layers and lessons in each hula.
The song, “Mapu Mau Keala" tells a story about the fragrance of a flower that lingers after it has gone. It also in a deeper sense refers to the memory of a loved one that stays with you after s/he has passed on.
When you look for kaona, you look beyond surfaces. You are open to more meaning and depth. Don’t accept everything, especially yourself at face value. What is underneath your actions, your motives, how you conduct yourself? These are important questions - for hula and for life.
You can’t dance if you don’t know what you’re dancing
Understand the meaning of what you’re dancing or it’s only movement without a point. In a bigger sense, what vision informs the dance? What story are you telling? Similarly, in your life, what is your visoin? Your story? Does it inform your everyday being? My husband, Dewitt, teaches classes in photography and vision. Most important, he tells his students, is to publish your vision in your life. Know your own vision and dance it every day.
The spirit in which you dance is more important than perfection
Some years ago, our hula halau flew down to Kalaupapa, the site of the leper colony here on Molokai . We were to perform for a 50th wedding anniversary. As it turned out, we were not the only entertainment. A makeshift halau of staff (nurses, kitchen workers, and more) danced also. One woman in that group was so transported by the hula story she was telling that light seemed to shine from within her. She made lots of “mistakes” but the spirit of hula was so pure that none of us could take our eyes off her. We all agreed that she embodied the essence of hula. When we told her so, she demurred, “Oh, but I made so many mistakes.” We simply told her what we saw and urged her to continue dancing. It was an uplifting joy to watch her.
Hula continues to teach me how to live and love - stay tuned for more hula lessons in upcoming blog posts. Me ke aloha pumehana - with warmest affection,