Dancing in the Sea of Life Hula Newsletter                    
                                                            Mokoli'i (Chinaman's Hat)                          Photograph by Janet Clark

Kulu ka waimaka, uwe ka 'opua.
The tears fall; the clouds weep.
When rain falls at the time of a person's death or during his funeral, it is said,
the gods mingle their tears with those of the mourners. 

'Olelo No'eau - Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings, #1917     

Collected, translated and annotated by Mary Kawena Pukui   


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In This Issue
Taupori Tangaro

A wonderful way to feel the energy of Hawaii, gently tone your body, strengthen your core, and enjoy dancing to  beautiful Hawaiian music. No experience necessary. Men, Women age 15 years and older welcome!   


6 - 7 pm 


11 am - 12 noon 


8:30 - 9:30 AM 


Men, Women aged 16 years and older.  6 months experience or permission of Kumu.  Dance to the melodic music of Hawaii.  


6 - 7 PM  


NEW Intro to Tahitian 
Series of 8 classes 

 Students will learn basic fundamentals of Ori Tahiti (Tahitian dance) in this class.  You'll practice age appropriate and fun routines!  Students will also learn about Tahitian culture and history.  Dress comfortably. Wednesdays September 3, 10, 17, 24 and October 8, 15, 22, 29.  7 - 8 pm.   

$100 for the series of 8 classes.      


6 - 7 PM     

Check our website for class schedules. 

All classes are held at our sister organization:   

 Zen Life & Meditation Center 

38 Lake Street  

Oak Park, IL.    


For more information call 708-297-6321 or email



Halau i Ka Pono  Performances

Photo by Ed Leinartas

 Hawaiian Hula Show featuring Classical Hula

61st Annual Chicago POWWOW
Busse Woods Forest Preserve
Sunday September 14th
11:00 AM

A Special Invitation

Sunday September 21st
12 noon - 4 pm

Join us for an afternoon of Hawaiian music and dance!!!  We're excited that Shasta Hud and Halau Hula O Puanani, Tina Eggert and Halau Ho'ohiwhiwa i Ka Pu'uwai, Jason Poole, Hoapili, Elua and more are  joining us!!!!

163 N Humphrey
Oak Park
Free parking on Lake and Ontario Streets

The performances are also a farewell to the Hula Mound since we are selling the house.  While the event is free, we'll ask for contributions to bring kumu hula from Hawaii to keep our cultural connections strong.  Register here to save your spot at this delightful taste of the
Hawaiian Aloha Spirit!

Halau News
August Tahitian Workshop

The women in Lori Murphy's Tahitian Workshop had a blast last month!  We are following it up with an 8 week series of classes called an Introduction to Tahitian. 

Click here to register!
No experience necessary.
Begins September 3, 2014
Wednesday nights from 7 - 8 pm
September 3, 10, 17, 24 and October 8, 15, 22, 29

Beginners at their first performance at Millenium Park's Family Fun Festival. L to R, Theora Humphrey, Moira Bryan and Yuka Fujita. 
Click here for a slide show of the event.  Here for mobile units.
Photo by Ed Leinartas
Ka'opu'ulani Hale

Congratulations to
Kumu Hula Michael Pili Pang,
 for the opening of their new home
Ka'opu'ulani Hale
908 Punahou Street
Honolulu, Hawaii

Lava on the Move

The Haumana

Congratulations to Director
Keo Woolford and his movie,
The Haumana, which has gone international!  The DVD is now available!  Click here.


A heartfelt mahalo (thank you) to everyone who helps Kumu June and Halau i Ka Pono.  Your aloha support makes a tremendous difference!!! 

Special thank yous to: 
Janet Clark, Ed Leinartas, Brad Lewis, Lei Dietmeyer, Joy Morgan, Betsy Puig, Lori and Jon Murphy, Moira Bryan, Sharon Cotton, Yuka Fujita, Theora Humphrey, DeLacy Sarantos, Cissy Plekavic, Flor Penner, City of Chicago, Inez Lopez, and Robert Joshin Althouse. 

September 2014
Kumu June Kaililani Tanoue
My best friend, Leneah Forest, left her body on August 12.  I visited her in Portland in June when she told me she was in hospice after a hospital stay. I was so glad that I had seen her and spent a good week being in her presence. 

We went for slow walks on her land, and sat in her garden.  She told me a story about her magical linden tree that grew where she had planted a different tree.  She loved the beautiful scent of the linden flowers. I massaged her feet while she rested.  She didn't talk a lot. I didn't either.

I felt disoriented when I first heard the news of her passing.  She was only a year older than me.  It was as if someone had hit me hard on the head.  I walked about in a daze - with an aching heart - for a few days.  I decided to just sit with the pain and not try to distract myself from it.  I told myself it was okay to have a broken heart and to mourn.  My best friend was gone. Tears came.

I remember our first meeting in a beautiful Portland Park 37 years ago.  I was out walking with my partner as she was with her's.  Both of our partners knew each other - they were physicians, residents at the same hospital - and our paths crossed.  She was dressed in a long skirt, wore birkenstocks and had a gentle strength.  We became friends after that meeting.  I was very busy working at the Interagency Food Bank then.  She volunteered to help and eventually became my closest friend.  

I remember the birth of her two beautiful daughters who now are grown and lovely women. I was dubbed their "fairy" godmother.  Leneah and I talked and listened to each other's problems, joys and sadnesses.  She was there for me a decade later when I split up with my partner. She invited me to live with her and her family as I figured out what my next step would be.

I decided to leave Portland about five months later and moved to Los Angeles where I married - she was my matron of honor. After that, I've lived in Hawaii, Santa Barbara, Montague (Massachusetts) and, finally, Chicago. We kept in touch with long phone conversations through all of my moves.

Whenever we talked, she urged me to move back to Portland and when I visited her a couple of months ago, she continued to suggest it to me.  It's a wonderful feeling to be loved unconditionally by someone.  When I received my Hawaiian name, Kaililani, in 1996, she decided to call me Kaili (kah-e-lee) for short.  Her family called me that too.  They are the one family besides my hula family who call me by my Hawaiian name.

Part of my zen practice is to realize that we are all going to die someday. We aren't going to live forever. If we truly realize that, death becomes an ally and helps us really appreciate each moment of the very precious lives we live.  Being happy or sad isn't what matters.  Everything is part of our journey and happens to teach us something.

"Someone should find a cure for death," my eight year old friend Shelby said very matter-of-factly as we baked cookies a few months ago. "I want to live forever!!!" she exclaimed.   

I chuckled when I heard that. Good to hear that kind of youthful energy just beginning and bursting with life.  And good to mark the passage of time with tears for the death of a beloved friend.

Malama pono (Take care of body, mind and heart),

June Kaililani Tanoue
Kumu Hula


P.S.  Here's a slide show of my Portland visit and another for my visit to the Great Vow Monastery and Portland's Heart of Wisdom Zen Center.  For mobile units click here for Portland slide show and here for Monastery slide show.  

Taupouri Tangaro
Taupouri Tangaro, PhD and Kumu Hula 
In the early 1990's, I knew of Taupouri Tangaro when he was a member of Halau O Kekuhi and I was a member of Halau Hula Ka No'eau.  Known then as Kaipo Frias, he was a strong, fiery dancer, and powerful chanter. He is the chanter on the rim of Halemaumau at the start of the Robert Mugge film Kumu Hula.  His chanting is kepakepa - rapid and rhythmic - in a trance-like communion with the stark yet spectacular beauty of the place.  It gives me chicken skin(goose bumps).

Taupouri is married to Kekuhi Kanae Kanahele Keali'ikanaka'olehaililani.  He has a PhD in philosophy from Union Institute and University and heads the only program that offers an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in Hula at the Hawaii Community College in Hilo.  

Here's Taupouri Tangaro telling us a little about himself and his philosophy of Hula.

Taupouri Tangaro:  Like many Oʻahu infants, I was born at Kapiʻolani [Hospital].  I was reared in Koʻolaupoko from infancy to 11 years of age.  My father, John Frias, is from Waiāhole Valley; my mother, Loisa Tangarō, is from Kaʻalaea.   The ahupuaʻa of Waikāne, Waiāhole, Kaʻalaea, Waiheʻe, Kahaluʻu, and ʻĀhuimanu are most familiar to me. At age 11 (1974) we moved to the ahupuaʻa of Waiākea, Hilo.  My tight valleys of Koʻolaupoko were exchanged for the panorama of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, with a little glow of fire over Kīlauea.  The regular storms of Koʻolaupoko were exchanged for earthquakes, sulfur blast, tidal waves and endless rain! My island in the ocean went from being Mokoliʻi (Chinamanʻs Hat), Kāneʻohe to Mokuola (Coconut Island), Hilo.

Kekuhi and I became acquainted in college, late 1980s, albeit I danced for her mother since 1982.  She and I became immediately best friends.  We realized that our old-soul characteristics liked each other.  We worked on many cultural projects together through Hālau O Kekuhi and through the University systems.  She was a lecturer at Hawaiʻi Community College, where her mother and father, Pualani and Edward Kanahele, served as professors. I worked at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Hawaiian Studies Department where I served as lecturer.  We married in 1995 and have 5 children. Today the eldest is in her early 30s and my youngest daughter is 11 years old.

June Kaililani Tanoue:  What is your philosophy of hula and how does it go hand in hand with wellness?

Taupouri Tangaro:  My philosophy of hula is evolving continuously.  I firstly believe that hula is a dance that allows the spirit to connect beyond the human person dancing the hula...it connects to all life and has no limitation to see him/herself in every kind of environment around the world.  I believe that we need more dancers in this world of ours...I believe dance allows the spirit to truly live, and when the spirit lives the human is happy; and when the human is happy, the world becomes happy.  

Well-being requires first that we ask the deepest questions of ourselves. It requires that we journey toward the oldest mysteries of who we are.   It requires that we see and celebrate our selves in all life, the animate, the inanimate (although I believe everything is animate), the natural AND the fabricated, the local and the foreign.  Hula is only the door into a greater universe of understanding our core contribution to this universe.  If we contribute happily to this Uli, to this Universe, to this World Soul, we will know Happiness. Happiness is essential to wellbeing.  There are only really two emotions: Happiness and Fear.  Wellbeing flourishes in happiness; disease feeds, if not stems from a life of fear, for fear feeds stress...need we say anymore?

JKT: I read in Hana Hou Magazine that you direct a  program in Hula Studies at Hawaii Community College in Hilo.  How is the program doing? The article also talked about the ritual regalia of hula.  I loved what you said about the importance of rituals in hula - how they hone the body's relationship with the outside world.  Can you say more about that?

TT:  It was Dr. Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele who initiated the hula program here at Hawaiʻi Community College.  She informs me that it was the first ʻAha Hula o Hālaulani Hula Conference in Hilo ((2001) that helped her conceive this idea.  Post-conference she realized that although the choreography of hula is healthy worldwide, the spiritual foundations of hula needed to be strengthened.  The hula program was born out of this reality.  I was hired to give life to the unprecedented.  

Yes, hula has been taught as classes in academia for a number of decades prior to this, but not as a full fledged Associate in Applied Science and Associate in Arts 2-year college degrees.  What I did establish was a hālau foundation to teach the hula degree, doing so for greater than ten years.  This hālau I call UNUKUPUKUKUPU (Shrine of Ferns [Rooted in Fresh Lava]). Here we learn the hula ʻālaʻapapa, ʻōlapa, and ʻauana as foundational.  In the last semester the teach a special repertoire in chemical alignment to the cohort. Chants and protocol are largely emphasized in our program.  "Special Repertoire" has included the hula pahu, kiʻi, mānai, palaoa, lupe and others.  

After 10 years of teaching UNUKUPUKUPU I realized that the major emergence was the rise of personal and professional leadership experiences.  My dancers leave critically aware of their strength and weaknesses as a professional, as a parent, as a person.  Much attention is placed on the quality of life and of living, doing so through hula.  Once the spirit is engaged, we asked of ourselves all kinds of questions...many of the questions are not easy, as they require the dancer to look into the darkest part of our unlived selves.  

As for the ʻaʻahu, we have fun creating and innovating beyond the norm.  Yes, we do use traditional wear, but we are not contained by it.  Part of UNUKUPUKUPU is innovating from an informed foundation.  Here is an example of my latest creation I call TAGA that will soon enter into the UNUKUPUKUPU experience.

This corded ritual wear is a bit avant-garde, but it originates from traditional and very esoteric cord skirts of ancient Hawaiʻi.  The use of the cord aligns with one of our Hilo myths related to Kana, the demigod born a cord and considered worthless by his parents, who threw the cord in a pig pen.  The grandmother Uli (which means World Soul), saw Kanaʻs worth and cared for him.  His body grew into a long cord that was metaphoric of our long ʻiewe (birth cord) that connects us to every one of our mothers and grandmothers all the way back to World Soul herself, Uli!  So this is an example where to wear what I create requires the wearer to think beyond fashion, to think in the deepest/highest zones of knowing who we are in this universe.  This TAGA exhibit will be at HawCC for the entire 2014-2015 academic year.  

JKT:  You also said that Hawaii was synonymous with the spirit.  What do you mean by that?  You said we must feed our spirit.  How do we do that?

TT:  Hawaiʻi is plural geography in Oceania.  Samoa and Tahiti have their Hawaiʻi, as do the Aotearoa. Hawaiʻi has to do with the breath (hā) of water (wai).  This is spirit. Hawaiʻi is the space where the spirit goes after the body dies.  Aotearoa has defined this process very clearly.  We in this modern and highly technical age have separated spirit from space...this dichotomy is not Oceanic.  Space and Spirit are one... So Hawaiʻi is not just a geography; Hawaiʻi is also a condition of knowing our spirit. We donʻt have to physically die to experience Hawaiʻi, our spirit.

How do we use hula to access this spiritual condition? Well, choreography,  no matter how beautiful and ancient, can't do it alone.  We need to talk about what weʻre dancing.  We need to get beyond just the historical facts transmitted through hula...we need to enter a dialogue relating to the spirit. 

We need to understand that when we dance the ancient dances, we are not just keeping alive cultural and historical facts, but we allow all the ancestors who created the hula to live again through our bodies.  Once we can open up our mind, body and spirit to the reality that in our body are our ancestors, as well as our descendants, then hula is beyond an inventory of historical happenings.  Hula is now a door through which historical time does not exist.  We enter back into the cycle of living.  When I dance at times I know for a fact that my ancestors and my descendants are dancing with me....this is a powerful reality!!!! 

To be continued next month.
About Us
Halau i Ka Pono at "Many Traditions - One Heart," March 30, 2014

 Halau i Ka Pono - the Hula School of Chicago is a sister program of the Zen Life & Meditation Center of Chicago located in Oak Park, IL.  Kumu Hula June Kaililani Tanoue established the school in 2009 and has been teaching hula since 2003.


Halau i Ka Pono means School that Cultivates the Goodness.  We teach Hula which is defined as the art of Hawaiian dance expressing all that we see, hear, taste, touch, and feel. Hula and healing go hand in hand in our Halau.  The dance connects us to the grounding energy of the earth and opens us to the warm spirit of Aloha (love).  Come join us!  We have wonderful introductory classes for adult beginners!  No experience necessary.


Contact Kumu June at june.tanoue@zlmc.org for more information.  May your lives be full of aloha blessings!