Sunday, May 1, 2011

ALOHA from AMNH and head scarfs

Today was my  first time learning about, performing and watching Oceanic dance and culture.
I myself know very little about Oceania and was excited to be able to immerse myself in the culture today.
The American Museum of Natural History has a segment called Global Weekends.
This weekend was; Island Beats: Festival of Oceania.
I arrived a bit after the festival began and was a bit sad to realize I missed the free learn to Hula lessons. However, I soon realized that the festivities were still in full swing. We, the kids and I, walked into the hall where the festival was being held and saw they had various "stations" with activities and information to collect and learn all the while live folk Oceanic music was performed in the background.
Next a gentleman went on stage and was painted in traditional "paints" from head to toe. The "paints" were made of clay stones that he ground up and mixed with water. He danced various different styles of dance and explained that every person is assigned a totem, which is to my understanding an animal spirit that represents them and vis-versa. The totem or animal spirit is what they paint their bodies as. His was an Eagle so he demonstrated for us how to ground up the clay and how he paints his body. The children were actually able to go on stage and dance with him, then a little bit later I got the chance to go on stage and dance with him as well! After we danced the children were able to get their faces painted as animal totems that they themselves picked.
The festival had a plethora of information that I collect and intend on reading and using to teach the children with.
We then left the hall and had lunch in a small room in the museum and were off to the performance.
Polynesian Dance Productions was there and put on a fantastic show! The women and men both danced and explained the various types of dance and what certain dances and motions symbolized and meant. The performers showed styles of dance from Hawai'i, Tahiti, and New Zealand and boy can those women MOVE! My head was spinning trying to watch the hips, hands and everything else!
Once again the children had the chance to go on stage and play tradition Hawaiian instruments and learn the Hula!
I know the following may sound shallow but I never realized how much culture was in Oceania and how Native Indian, and I use the term subjectively, influences are still strong today in these cultures. I have been to Native American Pow Wows before and there were a lot of surface similarities. It was also cool to see that people that looked so different in their appearances came from the same culture and country.
Today my first included:
  • Attending an Oceanic Festival
  • Watching dances from Tahiti, New Zealand and even the Hawaiian Hula
  • Learning about Oceania and how "large" and diverse it is
  • Dancing aborigine Australian dance with a man painted from head to toe in what looked like a large diaper
Over all it was very fun, educational, family friendly and engaging. The kids and I really enjoyed it and it confirmed with me that there is so much I don't know about the world and so much that I want to learn, experience and see.
In true First Year form my night ended with me eating a Guinea Chicken! Which I have never eaten before.
OH! I almost forgot that today was the first day that I walked around outside in public with a head scarf on! It was awesome and felt great and I still got hit on. Not bad right?! I woke up this morning with horrible helmet-esk hair so I decided to wrap it in a scarf and was on my way!
Hawaiian/ Australian dance
Aboriginal Australian Dancer

Thank again for reading and dont forget my other blog!

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