She . . . has honored the sacred. She . . . has made Love visible. She . . . has shown courage. For those of you who did not get the chance to be part of an amazing, sold-out, live performance at the Akebono Theater in December, the references may not make sense. For those who were there, nothing more needs to be said. “She . . . on the tip of her tongue,” is a powerful woman’s collective started by local artist/performer Iris Eve. In less than one year what started as an idea has blossomed into themost electric show on the Big Island. This isn’t a band. This isn’t a bunch of stuffy artists pretending that they are better than you. These are real women, sharing real knowledge, and giving back to the community that has helped them to grow.
After selling out two shows at the Pahoa Museum earlier last year it was obvious that a larger venue was needed. After selling out the Akebono that same realization has been made and the next show in 2012 will be even bigger. The women involved didn’t do this to get paid. They didn’t spend all of the hours practicing, and sacrificing personal time because of the financial benefits. Every last participant assumed that they wouldn’t be getting paid, and if they made enough to cover the costs of putting on the show, “She” would be deemed successful. In other words, this show was about the power of the people, inspiration, and the fulfillment of our potential.
I was lucky enough to grab some space on the balcony about 15 minutes before the show started. Every last seat was taken. Little kids were everywhere, long hair was everywhere, and it felt like the entire Pahoa community had come out to support the show. The air was thick with anticipation. Only a few had been lucky enough to see the smaller shows at the Pahoa Museum, and most didn’t know what to expect. As the opening ceremony took place, it became obvious to the audience that we were in for something special. A mixture of traditional Hawaiian and an excerpt from The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk left us ready for an invocation of the elements; Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Spirit. The wardrobes for each woman were beautiful, colorful, and flowing. Already we were witnessing the Goddess energy. Already we were part of something unique. My bowl of popcorn doused in hot sauce sat untouched. The ceremony was so deep that no one clapped when it was done. It seemed like clapping would somehow cheapen what we had just seen. So the entire theater remained silent. The women walked back stage and got ready for Earth.
I have only heard Laura Dvorak sing on the beach and around her friends. I had never seen her on a stage before. On stage she transformed. I was watching Laura as she shared her song with us, sang her heart, and showed us her highest vibration. One after another, each performer came out and reminded us of the deep artistic pools that exist in Puna. Mary Isis melted us with her Ukulele. Kaonohi and Marcelle brought the Hawaiian roots with original music and voices like none other. They sang to one another, the Love in their words floating through the air. The notes in the song were no longer just an audible experience as the melodies turned into living breathing visions between them, their Love obvious to all. Junipher and Ahsha Praise, mother and daughter, bangin’ out an old traditional song of unknown origin on the drum called O Mama. Natalia Vivianna Sol dressed like a bee doing a cover of How Can I Be Sure? A true performance piece that sparked images of Bjork, I looked around and watched as the audience, packed in every corner, every space, and in every seat, sat transfixed. Amberay of Light and Tiana Fiame Dixon pounded the stage with rhythmic dance and hypnotized every last living being in the theater. Two beautiful women moving their bodies in a celebration of the Earth as the hand drums drew reverence from deep beneath the soil. Sarah Milcarek, always with a voice of pure silk and magical fingers, plays the piano and sings like no one I have ever heard. Straight angel music. There’s no other way to put it. And that was just Earth.
Water popped off with poetry from Robbie Burch and drums from Hope Medford that never stopped. Lea Mariposa sang sweetly, opening up the audience, getting us ready for the river. We got our first taste of Anna Redwing, whose voice is the voice of honest expression. There’s a taste of blues in her voice, and a resonance that is all her own. Mary Isis outdid her first performance with Mama Ocean and brought the rain. The sky opened while she was singing, and sound of the rain falling on the tin roof filled the theater. Nature itself was clapping. I got chicken skin and soaked it in. It wouldn’t be the first time. This was magical. This is what its like to be in the presence of the Goddess. Rainbow Around the Moon, another “She” collective featured Laura Dvorak’s poetry and brought us into the next element. In Air, I got to see all of the artists whose work I had been enjoying. Marcelle and Kaonohi, Junipher and Mary Isis, and an amazing piece of poetry called Firestar from Robbie Burch, a beautiful woman who is also the photographer for “She.” Natalia Vivianna Sol gave us another over the top, you will never see anything like it, no way this is really happening, performance. Iris Eve gave us some Mercury, Anna Redwing let us Loose with Lightning, and Sarah gave us all some more sweet angel music with Now is Now. Air would have been my favorite part of the show so far except for one thing. I have to say I was a little sad not to see Amberay of Light do a performance piece for Air. She is, without a doubt, my favorite dancer, and her expressions of the elements are like none other. Luckily there were two elements left.
Amberay of Light
After intermission Fire and Spirit belonged to the audience that remained. Not everyone stayed as it was getting late and the show had gone on longer than expected. These are, after all, powerful women who had put together an entire evening of celebration, praise, and light, did anyone really expect it to be short? While Fire was rhythm and energy, Spirit was nourishment and reflection. RhythMystic, choreographed by Junipher, was everything the element of Fire can be. The dancers moved in fluid motion, and the audience couldn’t help but return to the earlier roots of our ancestors. We were all witness to the alchemy performed, and to the aspirations of humanity as expressed by the divine feminine. The Spirit rang with the sweet voices of Sarah, Mary, Anna, and Lea singing together; their voices creating a direct portal to the Akashic Records like none other. Iris Eve gave us All Here with the intensity of a woman who managed to put all of this together. Mary Isis gave us Great Silent Wings. Here we were, the audience, surrounded by the loving voices of the Goddess. Marcelle and Kaonohi singing Trusting Spirit. Jewels Ahl sang a song I had never heard her sing before with Open Your Ears. If you’ve never had the chance to hear Jewels sing you’re missing out. It’s too bad we had to wait ‘til the Spirit before we got to hear her original material. Tiana Dixon might have received the loudest applause of the night after singing the most electric version of Amazing Grace anyone will ever have the chance to listen to. I hope she’s working on some new original material for the next show. Hope Medford rocked the drums through the entire show and brought the rhythms like only she can. If anyone can hug you, inspire you, caress you, and kiss you with her drum its Hope. Check out her solo stuff if you can. As a Latino male who was raised in the Midwest I am ashamed to say that I have never seen so many powerful women do so much, and I am thankful to have been invited. I can’t wait for the next show in 2012. I can’t wait for the next inspiration. While the show may have been a little long . . . “He” would not have missed it for anything.