Friday, February 10, 2017

HAKA with Standing Rock

It's been five days since the  NoDAPL march in Los Angeles, and I cannot get the young woman I saw out of my mind. Standing just behind me to the left at the end of the march, I heard her before I saw her. Her shrill cry got the attention of everyone in our immediate area. Two or three large TV news-style cameras came running as we backed away. "Maori," a man whispered. Another repeated him. "Maori, Maori," went the ripple of mumbles from one person to the next while the cameras churned, and I tried to decide if what I was seeing was simply too painful to behold.

Worthy of a spot in the pantheon of spell-binding, breath-stopping stage performances, this young woman, I have since figured out, was performing a haka. A solo haka no less. You might have seen a group one on You-Tube. There was one going around several months back with beefy gorgeous guys. This was not that. Wikepedia's definition doesn't really capture what I saw on the steps of the L.A. Federal building  either:

The haka (plural haka, as in Māori, so in English) is a traditional war cry, dance, or challenge from the Māori people of New Zealand. It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment...

Various actions are employed in the course of a performance, including facial contortions such as showing the whites of the eyes and poking out the tongue, and a wide variety of vigorous body actions such as slapping the hands against the body and stomping of the feet. As well as chanted words, a variety of cries and grunts are used. Haka may be understood as a kind of symphony in which the different parts of the body represent many instruments. 

I don't know if  this solo female NoDAPL haka turned up on any TV news coverage. I searched the Internet and could not find it. But I can't forget it. She was young and beautiful, this woman. Her soul was visible. She was a symphony of pure being.

Here is a link to an article about Maori performing haka in solidarity with Standing Rock. The second  video in the piece is a solo woman (but not the woman in L.A.) From the article you can link to a FB page titled Haka With Standing Rock that also contains other pipeline updates.

1 comment:

K.E. said...

Watching a Haka always does two things: 1) gives me goosebumps and 2) makes me cry. So powerful.