Healing Through Performing Arts


Photo: Ka‘ohinani Daniels

By Kaʻohinani Daniels

All kamaliʻi are destined for greatness. Liliʻuokalani Trust (LT) has been hard at work on its 2045 strategic plan, spanning early childhood (ages 0-5), youth programs (ages 6-18), and opportunity youth services (ages 16-26).

Partnering with mission-aligned Hawaiʻi-based and national and international organizations who reciprocate shared learning, aloha, and hōʻihi is part of our kuleana to fulfill LTʻs vision of “E Nā Kamalei Lupalupa.”

LT has an ongoing partnership with New York City-based Gibney Dance. This multi-faceted dance organization taps “into the vast potential of movement, creativity, and performance to effect social change and personal transformation.” LT recently brought their HANDS ARE FOR HOLDING® (HAFH) program to Hawaiʻi for the Queen’s beneficiaries – and the experience was deep and impactful.

HAFH is a youth-centered workshop series that uses dance and movement to engage in conversations about healthy relationships, boundaries, respect, and choice in everyday interactions.

As part of the cultural grounding that is a hallmark of all LT programs and services, the partnership began with oli, mele, and hula, honoring Queen Liliʻuokalani. The collaborative workshop series created a healing space for kamaliʻi to express their feelings and experiences as they connected to themselves, each other, and the Queen. Kīpuka Leihano [LT’s Kapolei location which hosted the workshops] was filled with energy, deep conversation, music, and laughter.

Photo: Palehua, Poliʻahu, Chiara and Melanie
Hands Are For Holding is a youth-centered workshop series that uses dance and movement to engage in conversations about healthy relationships, boundaries, respect, and choice. Picture (l-r front) are Palehua, Poliʻahu, Chiara and Melanie. Kapilina is in the back row. – Courtesy Photo

“This program was really great, and I had so much fun…the space felt safe, and I felt loved. I had so much fun learning with Gibney and creating a new dance,” said LT ʻōpio, Palehua. “Gibney gave me the opportunity to reflect on myself, my relationships, and my friendships. This program was life-changing! Thank you so much!”

In addition to Gibney Dance, LT partnered with Hale Kipa and Kanaka Maoli director composer, and choreographer Joshua “Baba” Kamoaniʻala Tavares, who shared his original mele and hula with the kamaliʻi.

“The mele and hula, He Mele Mana Wāhine, was composed and choreographed in honor of Liliʻuokalani, as well as the young mana wāhine in our hui, as an inspiration to embody and honor our Queen and her legacy,” Tavares said.

The synergy between oli, mele, hula, movement, conversation, and puʻuhonua of the Queenʻs space allowed kamaliʻi to share and heal in ways that exceeded the expected outcomes of all of mākua present. E ola e nā kamalei lupalupa!

To learn more about Liliʻuokalani Trustʻs partnership with Gibney, please contact Kaʻohinani Daniels at kdaniels@onipaa.org.

Kaʻohinani Daniels is from Kaʻelepulu, Kailua, Oʻahu, and is humbled to serve Queen Liliʻuokalani and LTʻs mission by co-creating performing arts programming with and for LT teammates and kamaliʻi.