Monday, April 6, 2015

Hula, vocalization, legacy, mahu, permeability: Kekuhi and Kaumakaiwa Kanahele

Kekuhi and Kaumakaiwa Kanahele. Watch them in a video interview-performance.
Hover over the image for a quote from that video about 'Permeability' 

On Valentine's Day Eve and Valentine's Day, 2015, Pete and I packed ourselves up, made sure I had a full tank of oxygen, caught a ferry, drove into Seattle prepared and excited to be in the Seattle Town Hall audience with mother and daughter Kekuhi Kanahele and Kaumakaiwa Kanahele. We were headed for two experiences with Kekuhi and Kaumakaiwa. One was a small(er) teaching talkstory event entitled HULA: our world consciousness. The second night, Valentine's Day, was the larger musical venue of dance and music.

We had hoped the audio record of the small talkstory event would be available to share. 'Aue, oh no, there were technical problems and that recording disappeared. We mourned the loss of that recording because its content was uncommon and powerful. That desire to repeat and re-hear the messages called. 'O kiha i ka lani. 'Owe i ka lani. Nunulu i ka lani. The effects of that night have woven into us, integrating in the na'au the gut the messages work on me, live with me, win me over. Two malama (months) have passed, and I have truly eaten the moons.*

Mahealani on Saturday night
While studying and researching, on the Mahealani Moon with the energy of the Lunar Eclipse vibing through me, I was rewarded with the discovery of this YouTube from Seattle's KEXP FM. An interview and recording with dj Darek Mazzone and Kekuhi and Kaumakaiwa fielding questions, folding exquisite, broadly poetic and cogent replies. Woven between the call and response of the interview were the vocalizations of primal, ancient and contemporary music. That interview and recording was from Friday, February 13, 2015. The mother daughter duo were in the KEXP studio not long before coming to the stage for their Seattle Town Hall presentation of HULA: our world consciousness. My kupuna were listening to my petition to hear the 'ohana for Keaukaha again. I mahalo you, my ancestors. And share the discovery below.

I have listened and watched this video four times over the weekend. It is early morning, Monday, and Hina is still bright in the northwestern sky, a Kulu moon. Hiding behind the tall bodies of the tree 'ohana in the sky of Scorpio's domain. Jupiter is already in the west, still in his retrograde motion the planet of luck will go direct on Wednesday. My astrologer says to be ready to jump forward with exuberance and positivity. Mining that with the spirit of  kilo practitioner I dig through the notes I have made as I listened and studied the mana'o of Kekuhi and Kaumakaiwa.

After their opening 'oli Ke Welina Mai Kei Kekini Lalo and incantation to Kane, Mazzone said, "Tell me everything. Tell me everything about what you guys are doing ... I wanna start with your grandmother. I guess the parallel would be she would be like the Cesar Chavez of Hawaiian Culture." That brought a roar of laughter from the Kanakaoles. Kekuhi begins to reply and describe her grandmother Edith Kanakaole. But a question pure and direct opens the way for the brilliant and esoteric program unfolding. "What is hula ... exactly?"

Kekuhi starts, "Hula is alignment of movement and vocalization. It's an environmental dance."
Kaumakaiwa builds, "It's the synchronistic form of man and nature in communion. Sometimes it parallels and sometimes it intersects. But what you can always see with hula is that awakening of the subconscious through the dance the voice through activating, the exertion of the physical body ... and the experience of transcendence."

The thirty-four minute interview is an education, a full meal deal of an offering and I will listen and dig, awakening more of me each time. It is why I love the dance that is my Hawaiian culture. So many levels and issues of hula, humanity and nature, and the power of the word, and music are encapsulated.  Kaumakaiwa blossoms with "Encapsulating [that] hum into a word ... You invoke the word. You become the word. You become the thing." Her mother punctuates, "And THAT is what our practice is all about. Kaumakaiwa concludes, "That's the basis for all our music."

Enjoy. Make room for a feast. Mahalo e na 'ohana Kanaka'ole o Kanahele.

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