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Dancing to the Music in My Soul



Before I wrote poetry I danced. I told stories with my hands.  You might say as a poet I still tell stories with my hands as they float across the keyboard.  I was recently prompted to write a blog about what kind of music made me want to get up and dance.  Here is my response.


Time has flown since
humuhumunukunukuapuaha’a *
swam from my fingertips
as I danced
the tales I was taught.
These same hands
built a business,
showed horses how to trust
and the babe
in my arms how to love.

Now spotted with age,
my fingers float
across a keyboard
placing phrases on a page
to tell my stories.
                ~Judi Van Gorder

I dance to the music in my soul. If it has a beat, I can move to it. I have been a dancer all of my life.

My Mom said I danced before I could walk. By the age of 5 she put me in tap lessons, very popular in the 40s. I graduated to jazz and at the age of 7, the dance school offered a class in hula taught by a Hawaiian instructor. My Mom thought it would teach me grace and enrolled me, There were only 4 girls in our class, I was the youngest. Throughout my teens our little quartet toured with a troupe, dancing the hula and some Tahitian numbers. We were very popular and got pretty good.

Many years later when I first opened my insurance agency, an older woman came into my office for insurance. She had just moved to California from Hawaii. When I asked her occupation she said "hula dancer". And of course, I responded, "I can hula". She shook her head and politely laughed at the blonde houli on the other side of the desk and nicely told me that to be a good hula dancer you need to begin training at a young age. At that, I stood, slipped off my heels, walked around the side of the desk and went into a vamp. She could only respond, "You can hula!". Yes, I can.

A few years later while visiting the Island of Maui as a Soroptimist regional board member for an International Leadership Conference, other board members and myself were out for an evening and stopped at a nice bar for a drink after dinner. There were some locals at the bar, playing ukuleles and guitars and a woman from their group got up and began to hula. It happened to be a song I knew from when I was a kid so I took off my shoes and joined her. The local Hawaiians were delighted that I knew the dance and moved like a native. They wanted more and the woman and I obliged. My fellow board members were in awe and wanted to learn. Of course, I had to shake my head, politely laugh and nicely told them that to be a good hula dancer you need to begin training at a young age. *Wink*

I may be old now, but my body knows how to move with grace and rhythm. I can still do the hula. I love to dance and don't need much encouragement to do so.

graceful hands
tell a story while hips sway
in rhythm

* Hawaii’s state fish shown through the hands of the hula dancer by extending the left hand, palm down and placing the right hand on top with thumbs protruding on each side. The hands then undulate while the thumbs rotate. “when the humuhumunukunukuapua’a come swimming by”  ♬

Keep Writing!

~~Judi aka Tinker

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What a remarkable and entertaining story! I'm proud that we mainlanders have such excellent ambassadors of Hawaiian culture as you.

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