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[I started this post long time ago and ran out of energy to finish it. Hula is an important topic to me and I wanted to make sure to say exactly what I mean to say and avoided all the faux-pas. It’s a difficult task since I’m an absolute beginner and have only my instinct to comment on these very fine performances. But it’s time to publish it and move on.]

Merrie Monarch – the most coveted hula dance competition, the pinnacle show of Hawaiian culture and spirit – took place earlier this April. In honor of King Kalakaua, the Merrie Monarch and the great patron of Hawaiian arts, every year one week after Easter, the best halaus (hula schools) are invited to the town of Hilo on the Big Island to showcase their talents and their hard work. I didn’t get to follow it live this year, but the local channel KFVE has a dedicated web page and most of the festival program is available there.

The festival is a week-long with many public activities. The four performance and competition nights are in this order: Ho’ike (exhibition), Miss Aloha Hula (female solo), Group Hula Kahiko (ancient style hula), and Group Hula ‘Auana (modern style hula). Halaus spend months perfecting their dances and costumes to the smallest details. Many travel to important places mentioned in the songs to better understand the nuances, to feel the spirit and energy of the place and of a time past, to give prayers and ask for blessings.

In this post, I’ll cover only the Group Hula Kahiko, which is my favorite night. This year there were 29 performances on kahiko night: 11 kane (men) dances and 18 wahine (women) dances. Each performance usually has the following elements: an opening chant to announce one’s presence and to ask for permission to enter, the entrance, the main part of a mele oli (chant) and mele hula (accompanied by dance and instrument), and the exit. Often, the entrance and the exit are done as dances as well. Read the rest of this entry »


Haven’t been writing here, and for a good reason. I’ve got better at entrying my journal, and it’s just too much work to keep up with both.

Things have been going smoothly, and at the same time overwhelming, and that’s not an oxymoron. I’m pleased with everything that I have going on here, but it’s just a little too much on my plate right now.

We have a Bharatanatyam performance in 2 days. I’m only dancing a short piece, but it’s still a ton of work. We have at least 3 practices each week, and last weekend, we were away in Tepotzlan at Paty’s (my teacher) house to rehearse.

In the office, I’ve pretty much been by myself. Laura, the other intern (now a former intern), already left at the beginning of this month for a job at a law firm. Every day, I have to answer all the emails, all the phone calls, talk with everyone who walks into our center, and at the same time, put together on several presentations (state promotions for Illinois, test preps), draft the newsletter and continue working on two big projects: study group and pre-departure orientation. The way I usually work is concentrate and be productive for a couple of hours, then slow down for about half an hour, and then restart my engine. With all these deadlines coming down on me bam bam bam, I hardly even have time to breath, let alone slow down.

Also work-related, met with Megan for a mid-term evaluation, and learned more crucial lessons on professionalism. I love walking barefoot, and have a problem keeping my shoes on. Especially when i sit at one place (a.k.a. in front of the computer in the office) for a long time, I have the habit of kicking my shoes out, and then I’d get up and walk around barefoot. I also need to change my postures from time to time, and that may mean sitting cross-legged on my chair. All of this looks casual and unprofessional. Another thing that Megan brought up was my style of communication. She said I was too blunt and a little too casual with higher-up like Alan, which is totally true. While I understand that Alan is the top boss, it’s hard to avoid chitchatting with him. We speak in English (i tend to be very casual in English) and he makes you feel like you’re one of his best pals. And when I don’t feel distant from someone, I can also be very direct. Also, (unfortunately), it’s hard for me to “praise” or complement to people of higher ranks. It feels both inappropriate (they’re the boss after all – they don’t need my evaluation) and too ass-kissing. Maybe I just need to learn how. Or maybe someone can teach me another way to look at it that is not: making your boss feel good about him/herself so that you can become a favorite –> puke

of sleep felt divine after a couple of weeks running on 5 hours every night and 20-minute naps during the day. I totally collapsed after spending 4.5 hours in the CFA lab printing and matting my final portfolio.

Yesterday was also World of Dance Concert, and we had to hand in our 10-page journal for BharataNatyam. I stayed up until 3 and then got up at 8 to finish the last 5 pages. It was total bullshit; I’ve never been so ashamed of my paper.

As usual, for World of Dance, BharataNatyam had to show up super early to rehearse. This year, because of the Dance department’s budget cut, they couldn’t even rent out the World Music Hall, so it was a short show of 5 pieces in Crowell. And for the first time, they charged entrance fee. I never knew that the situation was that bleak for them.

Here’s us getting ready backstage – lots of pleading and pinning; Ilana, I missed having you pin my saree. What can’t be seen: me as the designed saree pleader, ironing the 6-yard (5.4 m) long saree and looking exasperated as it wrinkles when you have to fold the freshly ironed part, bitching about how BharataNatyam should worth more than 0.5 credit.

And here’s the the youtube video, courtesy of Ivy. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, a.k.a. people arriving late sitting down in front of Ivy, you can only see four people on the left, including me, for most of the video.

The dance this year was nothing compared to last year’s; we barely sweated; we didn’t even rehearse outside of class. But it was fun nonetheless to perform, to put on costumes and make-up: red lipstick, black eyeliner, red nail polish.

I’ve also started packing. I’m trying to downsize all of my stuff to 2 suitcases. Mission impossible? TBD.