By Andy Wang
Last night's pau hana was fantastic! Whether you shared a hula, song, drink or laugh, thank you for being there. It reminded me of what makes Halawai so special to me -- our community, which is so full of boundless energy, varied talents, and unconditional aloha. In a city as diverse as New York, it is truly unique.
It was also a night of healing. We gathered to wala'au and have fun for sure, but the strength of one's community is also about supporting and helping one another. I personally felt this in a big way. Thank you for joining me in sending a prayer and song to Uncle Cyril Pahinui who just underwent lung surgery. We hear the surgery went well but a long road to recovery lies ahead. Pua Ali'i 'Ilima O Nuioka performed a heartfelt rendition of the love song Waika dedicated to their kumu hula, Vicky Holt Takamine whose husband Ed passed away unexpectedly last month. Halau Na Pua Mai Ka Lani Nuioka, a relatively new halau branch in New York City, is mourning the untimely passing of their Kumu Kale Pawai. Their graceful movements and smiling faces throughout Aloha Aku, Aloha Mai were an homage to their kumu and a true celebration of life.
Playing music, and particularly playing music for hula, is an experience that I cannot always put into words. There is a relationship and interplay there that binds us. Always a privilege to perform with fellow musicians Claudia Goddard and Chris Davis, but even better when complemented by impromptu hula by Halawai board members Nersa Miller and Kim Davidson. 'Ukulele whiz Kris Kato joined me for kanikapila. (Sorry, we don't practice!) We had a blast dusting the cobwebs off of Po La'i La'i for dancers from Halau Hula O Na Mele Aina O Hawaii.
By the way, you may have noticed Jacqueline Hazen, with her video equipment, who is producing a short documentary featuring Kris and Halawai board member Keoni DeFranco on what it means to practice and teach oli (Hawaiian chant) in New York. A highlight for me was when Kainoa Ebernate got up with 'ukulele in hand to sing Pua Ahihi. His voice was sublime. And I finally got to eat some sushi while enjoying his music. And of course, we wrapped up with everyone singing Hawaii Aloha.
The night was full of special moments. For those of you who missed it, I hope you can make the next one. For those who were there, you nourished my soul and made the pau hana great. Mahalo nui.
What did you think of the new venue? Let us know what you thought about the event in the comments!