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Beamer performs Hula `Ili`Ili "Ke Ao Nani."
 Click to hear Audio transcript Click to see Video clip
Nona Beamer
Honolulu, 1999
In this clip, Auntie Nona dances a standing Hula `Ili`ili (dance with water-worn pebbles) to a chant about the beautiful world, written by Mary Kawena Puku`i.
Length: 2:07

I luna la i luna

I luna la i luna
Nä manu o ka lewa
I lalo la i lalo
Nä pua o ka honua
I uka la i uka
Nä ulu lä`au
I kai la i kai
Na i`a o ka moana
Ha`ina mai ka puana
A he nani ke ao nei

He inoa no nä kamali`i

Beamer demonstrates and comments on the `ili`ili.
 Click to hear Audio transcript Click to see Video clip
Nona Beamer
Honolulu, 1999
In this clip, Auntie Nona demonstrates the `ili`ili and shares childhood memories of learning "Hula `Ili`ili" with her "Sweetheart Grandma" Helen Desha Beamer.
Length: 6:01

NONA BEAMER: The length of the `ili`ili should be commensurate with the width of your palm. M-hm. Tucking it between the pointer and the middle finger. And the other between the thumb and the pointer. And opening and closing. So the thumb is [CLICKING] kind of used as a striker against the other, uh-huh, and turning the hands. Uh-huh, uh-huh. So you can tell the story, the waves are rolling, and they're crashing, and the rain is falling. [CHUCKLES] Affairs of the heart. [CHUCKLES] An upset heart. M-m, churning heart. [CHUCKLES] We talk only about the good things. [CLICKING] We see the sands that bark of Nöhili. [CLICK] And the pahapaha lei of Polihale. Beautiful for storytelling but not easy to keep the `ili`ili in the fingers and be comfortable turning, telling the story. Now this is our style. I don't know about any other style of holding, but Beamer style is this. And the smaller, between the thumb and the pointer. And the flex in the thumb, and bringing the palm into the thumb. M-hm. And of course, you want to be sure they're nice and tight. [CHUCKLES] You do a wind and you'll have them flying into the audience. [CHUCKLES] So here ... are the `ili`ili. M-hm. Now these are water-worn. And the best place to look, where the streams come down to the ocean and the ocean comes up on the, on the sand. And it goes, pr-r-r-r-r. You know. And it smooths it out so beautifully, and the kani is lovely. M-hm. Of course, if you can find the smooth `ili`ili without the pukas in it, the sound is better. H-m, I don't know much about basaltic stone, but those without the pukas sound better. M-hm, m-hm. And each instrument has its own mawaena, its own, uh, interlude, where the rhythm patterns change, the body movements change. And this one has the wrist and the turn. So you reach into it, and you pull into it, like that. And you extend the body as far as you can. And roll, roll, roll. M-hm. Kahi, lua, kolu, hä. Kahi, lua, kolu, hä. It's kind of a neat instrument, `ili`ili.

MAILE LOO: Okay. So what do you remember about learning `ili`ili for the first time?

NONA BEAMER: Well, I loved the sound. And I loved the rhythm of it. Of course, she had such a lithe body so her movements were very smooth, and I just admired the way she, she handled herself. Of course, Kawohi would do it, you know, with us. But Auntie Harriet was the one who had the body like Sweetheart Grandma's so she had that same lithe, you know, look. Every time she moved it was very,very nice to see. When Grandma and Auntie Harriet did it, oh,, the wind, you know, I remember that in particular how pretty that was "Ka makani mikioi ..." Oh, so beautiful. Yeah, I liked Nöhili very much, but I was always afraid, you know, not being able to hold the stones tightly enough that I'd konk my head. [LAUGHTER] `Iolani used to do it with more, ah, staccato in the wrist. Kind of almost playful, you know. But, ah, Grandma always did it with a long reach, kind of looking over the shoulder like that. Very long arms. I remember `Iolani's film. I think she did kind of part way, not really all this way, not diagonal. I think she did hers part diagonal. I still like that long stretch. Ooh, I think that puts a lot of gusto in it. [LAUGHTER]

MAILE LOO: In, in, ah, Nöhili, she, um, always ended it the same, yeah, in that routine?

NONA BEAMER: Yes. And I think that's probably characteristic because I think we only did maybe 3 `ili`ili. I don't remember doing a lot of `ili`ili.

MAILE LOO: Do you remember what the other two were?

NONA BEAMER: "`Auhea o ka lani la, aia i ka he`enalu." I'm trying to think what the other one was. Cuz I don't remember combining `ili`ili with, um, any of the others until I started teaching Ke Ao Nani, and I did an instrument per verse just as a matter of interest for the children. "Pu`u`oni`oni. Pu`u`oni`oni. A kä luna o Pu`u`oni`oni. Ke anaina a ka wahine." Yeah, I think those are the only three we did.

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