E Komo Mai! Welcome to my blog.

I'm delighted that you dropped in! E Komo Mai: WELCOME! This blog is basically an online visual journal is modeled after a concept I learned of in psychology 101... waaaaaaay back in college. That concept was somewhere in the chapter on The Significance of Dreams, where it mentioned someone's theory on dreaming about a house usually means that the house represents you. So I have used my actual house (Mauna Lea Manor) to structure my blog. In different rooms you will find different aspects of my life; different interests I like to blog about. This is a way to bring a little organization into my life and thoughts for myself... (dreams are in The Bedroom, Family updates are in The Living room, etc.)
This also, I would imagine, make reading this blog more convenient for you as well. If you are a grandparent interested in seeing photos and hearing stories about my boys, but maybe not so interested in my bellydancing obsession: you can just read what goes on in The Playground. But if you are an Art Collector more interested in my latest work and information on collecting, but not especially interested in my personal life: you'd enjoy The Office. Mauna Lea Manor is sort of the foyer to all the other rooms. If you would like to tour my online portfolio, please visit: www.stephaniebolton.com.
I hope you enjoy your time here ;) & continue to stop by!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Interview with Kalae Kaina

Once you have finished reading Kalae's answers to my questions,
don't forget to answer her question for YOU!

How do you define “Belly Dance”?
Unless I really want to get into it with some one, I just say it's ancient feminine dance form:) For the longer explanation please get back to me on a cool breezy afternoon with a bottle of wine and cheese!

How & when did you first encounter belly dancing?
Well, growing up my Step-Mother was into belly dancing. She took classes and performed here and there, I remember watching her sit at a table in the garage and sew beads on to her costume for hours. It was really fascinating to me because I have never seen anything like it!

How long have you been dancing (professionally/teaching)?
I've been a student of Belly dance for 15 years now, and started performing with my teachers troupe pretty quickly. I stayed with my teacher, Jean Yanagawa for six years before I moved on to dance professionally on my own. I began teaching in 2002 but really got serious about it after I formed my group Shakti Dance Movement in 2004.

Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I was born and raised on the island of Oahu in Kailua where I still live with my family.

Where is the most interesting place that belly dance has taken you?
Let's see...when I was 18 I went to the Evergreen State College to study Odissi, a classical Indian dance form, for a summer intensive. I had a hippy boyfriend at the time getting his degree there in ecological design. Anyway we lived in a tent in the forest for three months. It was an awesome experience! I danced Odissi for 4 hours three times a week, I have never had sore thighs like that since! I know it's not a belly dance experience, but my desire to learn Odissi and not being able to find a teacher in Honolulu is what then led me to find belly dance, so I guess it's all connected.

Who were some of your mentors/teachers/inspirations along the way?
One of my early inspirations was Ansuya, I took a workshop with her waay back and and saw her perform and was blown away!! My early solo dance career was heavily influenced and inspired by her. Then in 2005 I went to the Maui Tribal Intensive with Rachel Brice and Kami Liddle was assisting her. That experience really launched my practice and the direction of my dance. That was also the summer we fell in looove with Kami!! We (when I saw "we" I mean Shakti, my girls help me a lot!) sponsored Kami Lddle for workshops in 2006 and have developed a friendship and mentor relationship ever since. I consider Zoe Jakes and Kami Liddle to be my biggest sources of inspiration, my teachers, and my mentors, I love them both!

What valuable advice would you like to pass on to novice dancers?
I would say never stop drilling the basics! I think dancers can get sidetracked by always wanting to learn whats "new", new moves, new combo's, ect. But I think by continuing to drill the basics your technique deepens. I like to look at it like a yoga posture. Yoga is not about just getting into a posture and holding it. It's about working into that posture, it's constant movement, using the breath to get deeper into the posture. So in the same sense when drilling pelvic locks for example focus on deepening the contraction or speeding up the contraction. It takes a lot of work to get your muscles to fire quickly. Just because you can do basic locks and isolation's doesn't mean you have to stop working on them. When drilling basic isolation's the other layer I work on is relaxing!! I think "relax the face, relax the jaw, relax the shoulders, lift the torso, stay in posture, and use the breath to stay relaxed." On stage the breath is a very important tool to use to stay relaxed!

What is the most unusual experience you have had belly dancing?
We once got hired for a gig not really knowing what we were getting ourselves into, when we got there it was a raging house party with a stripper pole in one of the rooms. There were a lot of trained dancers in the house cause their pole tricks were definitely not armature! So when we were doing our set the host found out that it was one of my girls birthday that night. Right in the middle of or performance he got on the mic, stopped the show, put a chair down in the center of the performance space and made every guy in the room give her a lap dance!! And they all did! It was crazy and definitely one of the most memorable performance experiences. After her round of lap dances we finished our set...

Do you have any other special talents/skills/occupations besides (or that compliment) your belly dancing? (example: day jobs or hobbies)
nope not really, I got two kids and take care of my grandma who had a stroke.

What is your favorite or signature style of belly dance that you teach or perform? Do you have a specialty that people recognize you for?
I do Tribal Fusion, I love it! With my bit of Odissi training we tend to fuse Indian dance into our belly dance. I've also got a flamenco student in my troupe so she really brings into Shakti a nice fusion with her flamenco. And I love dubstep, I think within our community and the types of events we get hired for, people associate us with that heavy electronic dubstep and breakbeat type music. I guess you could say it's one of our signatures, although we do other stuff as well.

Do you have any special projects you are working on personally that you would like to share about?
Gosh I'm always busy!! I'm currently serving on the MEDAH board this year as Vice President so that is really taking up a lot of my free time. MEDAH is a non-profit dedicated to educating the community about Middle Eastern Dance. So we do a lot of community based events. We just held the annual student recital which was awesome. And in October we will be sposoring Dr. Jaynie Aydin for workshops and a hafla. Jaynie is an old friend and one of my first teachers who fallowed in the foot steps of her teacher Aisha Ali and got her doctorate in Anthropology. She is currently in Turkey working on a video archival project documenting all the Romani dances. So I'm very excited for her workshops! You can check out more on MEDAH at http://www.medah.org/.

Why do you love belly dancing?
I love belly dancing cause it fuels my soul in a way that nothing else can. It keeps me inspired and thriving in life.

What is your favorite music to dance to? Why? Any favorite bands/groups/artists?
I love all kinds of music!! Everything from heavy Grime, dubstep, breakbeat, & glitch to traditional Middle Eastern music, Balkan, and everything in between. We work with dubstep a lot, we used to dance for a party called "Glitch and Glam" that DJ RhythmStar used to put on down here when he was living on Oahu. He would give us a couple tracks to dance to and we'd choreograph a piece to it. It actually was a good relationship cause it's nice to get the music share thing going on. DJ TKO saw us dance at RhythmStar's event and hired us to dance at his event "Speakers Corner" which is an awesome all dubstep monthly party here in Honolulu. That was what really got us into dubstep. TKO and the Organized Grime crew has been an awesome support for Shakti and really catapulted us into the realm of Dubstep, which I really love dancing to. I love the heavy bass lines and the syncopated beats, especially when mixed with traditional musical elements. I think that kind of electronic music is a perfect match for what we do in Tribal Fusion, by taking traditional belly dance vocabulary and adding new innovation to it. In the same way electronic music with traditional musical elements makes that bridge from ancient to modern. I taught at Tribal Fest this year and this was my workshop topic, understanding the musical elements of dubstep, breakbeat, and glitch and how can understanding the foundation of the music improve the way you interpret the music.

Favorite costume elements?
I love lace and ruffles! Favorite designers? All the ladies at Salome's Suitcase are to die for!!!

Favorite Colors?
Black & deep red!

Favorite Quotes (regarding dance or life):
"Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion." -Martha Graham

As a fellow native to the Hawaiian Islands, I know firsthand how living in Hawaii poses unique challenges for learning belly dance- teachers often come and go, the nearest workshop is at least $600 plane ticket away, etc. – how were you able to get the training you desired while living out here in the middle of the Pacific ocean? Do you have any advice for people who want to learn this dance but are far distances from the nearest tribal fusion instructor?
If you build it they will come!! I bring my teachers to me! Let's face it, it is not hard to get people to come to Hawaii. If you have good organizational skills, a bit of a business sense, and the balls to take a financial risk, then it could work for you to be a sponsor in your community. We have sponsored Kami Liddle down three times, Zoe Jakes for workshops three times and with Beats Antique twice, Sabrina Fox twice, we did Colleena Shakti & Paricia Passo's Red Lotus Project, and one year we had The Indigo: Rachel Brice, Mardi Love, and Zoe Jakes, that was awesome! I also have been making the yearly pilgrimage to Tribal Fest for the past 5 years so that is huge when it comes to seeing what is coming out of this amazing global community of dance. I recommend Tribal Fest to everyone who's never been, it's just an amazing festival all around!

You started Oahu’s first Tribal Fusion Dance Company- Shakti Dance Movement. How did the locals respond to this kind of dance? What kinds of events/venues did you find to perform at?
Well we definitely started in the underground, art district community of China Town. Performing at night clubs and DJ events. People loved us and still do, I think it's something different that they have never seen before so we've been able to stay pretty darn busy just by word of mouth advertising.

Your approach to belly dance is rooted in strong technique and proper execution of movement because you firmly believe in dance as a vehicle for mind body connection and body awareness. How do you feel your belly dance practice flows over into your every day life?
In every way this dance had made me a stronger person, more confident, confront and overcome anxiety, develop leadership skills and so much more.

I really adore your costumes! Do you make them yourself? Where do you find inspiration for your great looks?
Well every year we spend way too much money at Tribal Fest, we just go crazy, then we come home and build our costumes with all the yummy stuff we got! Or if we are working on a specific dance, we will build the costume for the dance. We just finished a flamenco fusion piece and made these gorgeous polka dot ruffle skirts.

You mentioned that you love the “fosse aesthetic”- can you tell readers a little about what that means, what this aesthetic looks like, where it comes from and how it pairs nicely with what your dance company is doing?
Shoot lady! I would have to write an essay to really answer this question! Bob Fosse is a dance legend and his work in Cabaret, All That Jazz, Chicago, and Sweet Charity are among my favorites! We tend to fallow the trends in the Tribal Fusion dance scene and Fosse fusion has played a big role in our community. I would say watch the musicals and movies he's choreographed and discover if it inspires you and how that inspiration can be injected into your bellydance.

You have studied dance forms that you fuse into your belly dancing, what are some of these other styles you have studied? Do you practice any other cross-training that you feel benefits your belly dance practice?
I have studied Odissi Calssical Indian Dance, taken a handful of flamenco workshops, and taken a lot of Fusion workshops. I really think as a dancer Pilates and Yoga are he best for your dance practice.

And for my readers' pleasure, a clip of Kalae perfomring!

This week you have a chance to win a necklace & earring set from India!

Courtesy of
gallery & boutique
Oasis of Beauty
If "they" would come- what would you build?
leave your answer as a comment for a chance to win
the Indian necklace and earring set
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