Marie Tattiana Aqeel
Hello and Aloha
Wow. I've returned from the powerful, majestic, and fertile land of the big island Hawai'i completing the first session of All The Way In 2023. I am so grateful for all of my supporters on gofundme who helped me get there. This was and still is an experience of a lifetime. I'm going to tell you about it with pictures!
Arrival and departure were cool and it was very easy for me to get into island life. I was greeted by (surprise) fermented coconut water and coco meat after traveling all day long to get there. The next day I had fresh papaya- my favorite fruit- hydrating and so good for the digestive and lymphatic systems. I ate a few of the seeds, which taste a little like mustard seeds and are only good for you in small amounts, otherwise they're toxic.
My absolute favorite meal of the trip was lau lau, rice, and poi. Lau Lau is steamed meat wrapped in a taro leaf, so tender I could eat the chicken bone with all its good nutrients. Poi is taro root, of a purple hue, fermented and made into a soft starchy pudding.
(photo 1 description: centering the lau lau, which looks like a shiny dark green pocket food, surrounding it are rice, poi, salad, a smoked salmon and tomato salad called lomi lomi, and a shredded cabbage salad)
(photo 2 description: my hand holds a papaya cut in half exposing its seeds)
(photo 3 description: 2 sprouted coconuts lay on a bed of discarded chopped coconut shells)
(photo 4 description: my hand holds a ripe tangelo in front of the tree it fell from)
(photo 5 description: a coconut cut open for drinking rests in my hand as I sit with a lei around my ankle)
(photo 6 description: a pineapple is growing)
We started the program located on a beautiful farm in a studio overlooking land and sea. Everyday, we created an orchestra out of our own voices. On the first day, we set intentions and offered prayers with Hawai'ian ti leaves to the ahu, a stone shrine at the entrance to the farm. On the third day, we focused on our own ancestors and the music that they gave us. On that day, I felt a very strong impulse to create a grieving ritual at the Ahu for those of us with connections to the Americas and other colonized lands. Tears flowed, we held each other, and some of us spoke short prayers aloud. As a class, we were already in sync, but I feel that this ritual together really amplified our care for each other, which carries on through today.
(photo 1 description: a wide shot of the studio on farm landscape)
(photo 2 description: a shot taken from the studio toward the sea)
(photo 3 description: my cohort member sits in between the open doors of the studio)
(photo 4 description: 2 of my cohort members cuddle and watch sunset together)
(photo 5 description: a view of palm trees from the ground up)
(photo 6 description: a view of banana trees growing a bunch of bananas)
On day 4, we all went together to the beach, the market, made ti leaf leis in the beautiful home garden of an elder Japanese dancer named Shizuno, and we went to see Pele- the volcanic and fire Spirit of the island- at an active crater in Mount Kīlauea.
As a class, we became close really quickly. Egos fell right before our eyes. Healing unfolded as we symbiotically blessed each other with our talents, sound healing through our improvised vocalizations and embodiment, led by an eclectic, fiery, and compassionate Rhiannon. I felt blown away by our artistic skills, empathy, and willful authenticity.
(photo 1 description: All the Way In class of 2023 with Shizuno, front center)
(photo 2 description: I pose with Annette Philip who became like an Auntie to me) (photo 3 description: Left to right are Rhiannon, Emmett, Annette, Amelie, and I)
(photo 4 description: hardened lava makes the floor of the bay in Hilo)
(photo 5 description: my view as I twist ti leaves into a lei)
(photo 6 description: crater activity at Mount Kîiauea)
There's a lot that I can say about the work, and I'm still processing everything that it gave and took for me to be present for the full 10 days. It was rigorous, energetic, physical, spiritual, and communal. Each day we practiced exercises in singing and creating sound with the movement of our bodies. Everything was improvised, and we were always pushing ourselves to get out of our own habitual behaviors as singers and performers. The exercises brought out our vulnerabilities and we'd have to work through whatever anxieties came up through vocal/physical expression. Thankfully, the container that we created within those first few days held us boldly and safely together. On day 5, we were visited by two beautiful dancers who improvised with us. We sang improvised in public spaces. Even at after-school parties with each other, we found ourselves in a big circle, singing and improvising with the music playing from the music speaker. By day 7, I was exhausted but pushing through it. Excitement swarmed around me as the cohort prepared to give a concert "performance" of our exercises in front of people. It tested my resolve to remain inwardly connected as we opened up our vulnerable process on a "stage." In the business of performing, there was a time that I forgot that singing is primarily a spiritual offering and there is no right way to make it- just offer an open heart.
(photo description: left to right, Amelie, me, Hannah, Lisa, and Jeffrey embody our vocalizations in an exercise)
(image description: a promotional flier for our live concert performance)
Over the next 4 months, I have vocal assignments to complete for ATWI before we have our closing live session in Perugia, Italy. I'm also continuing to work on recording my first studio album (YAY!), I'm in an artist residency in Charlottesville, Virginia for which I'm creating song-scapes, and I'm touring with Parable of the Sower: the Opera. I'm keeping my gofundme campaign open until I reach my goal of funding my total school expenses, $8,000. Feel free to share or just enjoy being in this experience with me. I'll post just one or two updates until after the end of the school year. Thank you for your support. With love and for wellness, Marie Tatti