Dancing in the Sea of Life Hula Newsletter                    
 Na Hulu Kupuna, Aumakua of the Earth by Calley OʻNeill and RAMA The Elephant
Pueo  -- Asio flammeus sandwichensis, Endemic Hawaiian Short-Eared Owl

He kehau hoʻomaʻemaʻe ke aloha

Love is like cleansing dew.
Love removes hurt.

      'Olelo No'eau - Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings #683      
Collected, translated and annotated by Mary Kawena Pukui   
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In This Issue
Calley OʻNeill
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Photo by G. Brad Lewis


2-Day Meditation and Hula Retreat with Kumu Hula & Rev. June Tanoue and
Rev. Jaune Evans

at Volcano,
Big Island of Hawaii

2 Spots Left - Register Today!
January 13 - 15, 2017

Mahalo Nui Loa!
October 1 , 2016

Fukushima Calligrapher Seiren Chiba in front of "Hope" that she drew two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami hit.
Hula is life.  Those were the words of the famous Kumu Hula (hula master) Maiki Aiu Lake that I heard from my own kumu during my training.   She was an important part of the cultural renewal known as the Hawaiian Renaissance.  Maiki Aiu Lake was my teacherʻs teacher.   She said that hula is everything that we can see, hear, feel, taste and touch.

What does that mean in terms of how we live our life?  How does Hula enrich our lives? 

I remember with great fondness, this past July when three of my hula students and I made the trek to Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii to celebrate my kumuʻs 30th anniversary of his hula halau (school).  It was a reunion to remember!  Here were my hula sisters, many now kumu hulas with their own halau.   We danced together, almost one hundred of us, in several great mass hulas doing Kawika, Aloha Kauai and Kahea a Kealoha.  What an incredible feeling of ʻohana (family) that experience was - so many of us dancing together with our hearts.  

Each halau also chose two modern hulas to present.  One of the hulas we chose was Poliahu, a song written by Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett, about the Snow Goddess of Mauna Kea.  My father loved this song so much so that he asked to have it played at his funeral.  

Before each set of their dances, the kumu hula was out on stage with our teacher Kumu Michael Pili Pang.  He asked us a couple of questions and then we introduced the dances.  When it was our turn, I described Poliahu as a hula about love and heartbreak.  And my teacher quickly added, "just like hula."  I remember my heart breaking on several occasions during my early training.  I felt so down that I thought maybe this path was not for me.  My ego (pride) was suffering and I was not pono (right with myself).

Fortunately I was beginning a meditation practice that helped me to be courageous and to practice patience by just sitting and being with these difficult feelings.  I also had a zen teacher/husband and hula sisters who supported me. And of course, I had a remarkable kumu.
(to be patient) was the big lesson to learn and practice.  This practice continues to this day.  Norman Fischer in his book Training in Compassion states,"Patience is the capacity to welcome difficulty when it comes with a spirit of strength, endurance, forbearance and dignity rather than fear, anxiety, and avoidance."

The capacity to welcome difficulty.  That is what I have been working to develop!  Somehow I know that cultivating patience also cultivates a deep and abiding compassion that goes beyond right and wrong.  

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

June Kaililani Ryushin Tanoue
Kumu Hula and Sensei

P.S. Just 2 spots left for Sacred Fire 2-day hula and meditation retreat that Jaune Evans and I are co-leading in Volcano on Hawaii Island in January 2017! 

Calley OʻNeill


 Artist Calley OʻNeill in front of her recently completed stained glass mosaic mural, "Na Wao Aʻo Piʻilani" for Pukalani Elementary School on Maui
Calley OʻNeill was born and raised in New Jersey, graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BFA from the Pratt Institute in New York.  She received a Masters in Social Ecology and Public Art from Goddard College in Vermont.

She lives in Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii and has been busy creating exquisite murals for public art all over the state of Hawaii.  Her art is displayed at Kipapa Elementary School on Oahu, University of Hawaii at Manoa, The Lodge at Koele, Hawaii Maritime Center, and The Kings Shop in Waikoloa to name a few places.

She just completed a State Foundation on Culture & the Arts funded forest mural for Pukalani Elementary School on Maui.  Itʻs entitled Na Wao Piʻilani - The Life Giving Forests of Maui.  Calley told us about the mural.

Calley:  The mural is about the fact that Maui has lost so many forests. All the islands have and places on earth also - due to deforestation - burning the forest for energy in the 1800ʻs.    The mural is about the call of the forest through Lilinoe, the goddess of mists, all water in all forms.  She shows up in the Wao Akua (sacred realm).   Itʻs about the bringing back of the forest in order to bring back the clouds, to bring back rains, and the life of the land.  Because the rain follows the forest.  

I worked with almost 200 children and 75 adults to do the border - the native lei aloha - that surrounds the image.  It calls for the awakening to take care of nature as all indigenous people know.  Itʻs about listening to indigenous wisdom.

June:  Tell me about the Puʻeo (owl) painting that is the main image of this newsletter.  You painted this with Rama the Elephant from the Portland, Oregon zoo?

Calley:  The Rama exhibition had a world premiere at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the World Conservation Congress in Honolulu in September.   It will be a world traveling exhibition on endangered species until it finds a home.  The Pueʻo painting is part of this exhibit.  The color underneath the owl was done by Rama the Elephant - just his breath - an elephant painting on behalf of Hawaiian endangered species.  

The piece with the Puʻeo is called  Na Hulu Kupuna - Our Feathered Ancestors, Aumakua (Protectors) of the Earth.  Everything around us in the natural world are literally our ancestors because they all had to come together to create a living biosphere where we could actually breathe and eat.  Owls are always looked upon as wise.  Theyʻre aumakua of the Hawaiian and local people.  Even though theyʻre not on the endangered species list federally, they are on the state endangered list on Oahu.  Theyʻre disappearing at rapid rate.  

Iʻve had wise ones tell me from Kanu O Ka ʻAina (Hawaiian immersion school in Waimea), that the kupuna (elders) said the puʻeo used to darken the sky when they flocked.  Thatʻs certainly not happening anymore.  Thereʻs been such a massive loss of habitat for them.  Their population has declined and very little is known about those birds and we need to protect them.  

One reason that puʻeo die because theyʻve been poisoned by eating the mice and rats that have eaten rat poison.  The wise owl is asking us, as it looks at us, to behold the earth and the living world as what sustains us - that we are the endangered species and nobody wants to say this.

When painting this, I was thinking that I would put the earth up in the dark area up above the puʻeo.  And one day I heard this loud sound, this voice in my head that said, "What do you think I am pointing at?"  This was a revelatory moment when the puʻeo was actually speaking to me clearly.

The painting would have had no purpose if I didnʻt stop, pause and listen to where the earth was supposed to go in the painting. It was a wake-up call from a very wise owl - like the little wise owl within us - that knows.  Itʻs about saying something important, not about being pretty.

About Us
Successful Halau Fundraiser with our Hawaii Hula ʻOhana: Kumu Hula Michael Pili Pang & Keikilani Curnan; Davin, Al, and Ryan

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 we define 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!