Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Why I Hula

I have pain . . . after I hula it is acute . . . but . . . I cannot stop . . . I can never stop . . . because . . . hula is a communication, and expression of the soul . . . and not just my soul, but, the soul of my mother, and sisters, the composer, the mele, the ancestors, the history, and the soul of life itself.  It is a gift . . . it can express those things that one cannot ever express with words . . . because, words are too simple . . .  Words cannot possibly describe the depth of pain, love, and life . . . not . . . not for me anyways.  I suppose that is why I love Hawaiian poetry . . . mele is woven in such a way as to present life experiences in a beautifully symbolic way . . . and hula is that visual demonstration of the poetry. 

When I was young life was simple and I loved to watch the hula dancers! It was a very happy time in my life and those memories fill me with warmth! I began doing hula when I was two or three, but it was not until I was twelve that I decided to really devote my time to learning.  So, mom took me to her friend for official Polynesian dance lessons and I loved it.  I enjoyed learning Hi'ilawe, Kawika, Holoholo Ka'a, and many other songs.  It didn't take long for me to realize that I was passionate about hula.  I never considered myself to be a Tahitian dancer, or Maori dancer, because, it really was hula that hit home for me.  Before long, I devoted all of my energy into my dance, and then it happened . . . I learned to BECOME the mele . . . and that was essential.  

When I dance hula, I do not see others watching me.  I see the poem . . . and that is all.  Which means when you see me hula, I do not see you, I see the mele . . . I see the flowers, and the mountains, and the ocean . . . and I feel the wind.  Life is full of love, and pain . . . the older I become, the more I can see . . . I many not be able to dance like I used to . . . but . . .  I can understand and express much more than I could when I was young . . . 

My love to all of you who understand what this means . . . 

Aloha no~

Monday, December 24, 2012


ukulele love began before i could speak...it began the moment i heard the voice that embraced my soul,  and as she strummed her martin my heart beat deeply in my amniotic home.  ~Shawn Emalia Nakaikainaelua Hokulani Bray

Monday, December 5, 2011

Red Uke, Red Shoes, Red Benz

He walked in like it was still 1929.  Being a visual person, I was immediately intrigued by his presence.  He was aged, of small stature and wearing a jacket with a fur collar, the length of which extended approximately ten inches from the ground. What really struck me were the red shoes he was wearing!  Awesome!  Pure sheer awesomeness!  I love it!  I'm all over it!  I think he was 97-years-old and man could he play ukulele!! 

As the days pass by, I miss him more.  It's strange.  When someone is 104-years-old you expect that their days will come to an end and yet I am left with the feeling that he left too soon.  Suddenly, I find myself wanting to hold on to everything....pieces of paper with music notations written quickly across a hand drawn staff...whole musical scores he wrote out for me off the top of his head!  I suddenly want to take them out of my music book and study them and then frame them...protect them.  

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hanai - "I will give you a child"

I am looking at my small son, Kawaikapuomaui, as I contemplate giving him away.  My throat tightens and I drop my head downward to feel his soft hair on my face.  My arms en-wrap him like a beloved Tapa and I do not want to let him go.......

In the history of my culture there exist the practice of giving a child to another family. Heartless? Cold? Perhaps to some it could seem that way.  In fact, I know to some, it is that way. For, I have an Uncle who was Hanai'd away to a family with the last name Kanai.  Once I made a joke and called him Hanai Kanai!  I thought it was very funny until my sister, Kekula, quickly corrected me, saying, "He is very hurt that he was given away."  It was sad on several levels. (1) He lived his whole life feeling like he was not wanted. (2) Tutu's gesture was misunderstood. (3) This was a testament to the fact that our culture in the truest sense was lost.

The Hawaiian tradition of hanai'ing a child away was a beautiful way of sharing and connecting, which is, in my opinion, one of the greatest expression of love that a family could show.  It is a difficult thing to be in love and to not be able to produce a baby to solidify that union with a little life made of each other.  Heartbreaking? Yes.  In times past, this situation would have presented an opportunity for a family, (husband and wife), to help...to fill the void...to heal the emptiness... I imagine, the love that a hanai'd baby would receive from his adoptive parents and the bond that would exist between the two families... 

Within the Hawaiian community, outside the immediate family, the most potent expression of Aloha was to say..."I will give you a child."  

I feel his breath on my face and contemplate giving him away....my throat tightens....and you might wonder, "Would she do it?" and I say to you....yes.  Not Kawaikapuomaui, 'Hele or Hana...but yes...I would. 

For Kekula....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Who is she?  My playmate?  My Toy?   Yes...definitely...yes!
But there is more you know...Her name in the Arabic tongue means 
Here is the truth...(spoken in a whisper)...She saves me.
I am always falling. 
...Falling off rocks...falling on my knees...falling from life
And I am always losing. 
...Losing my man...losing my soul...losing my way
And she is always there...always 
Who is she?  My Soul-mate?  My Joy?   Yes... definitely...yes! 
But there is more you know...Her name in our native tongue means


Cool waters fall....into a pool of 
Molten Black Stone. Sensual scents 
linger in the air~ Awapuhi, Soil,...
Ancient History~they surround us
to become an intangible lei 
Kawaiola falls on me and embraces me 
I lie in this pool of compassion
Here are the sweet waters of life 
Answer me O' Kawaiola