Monday, May 30, 2011

Dancing with the Enneagram Part 2

As a hula dancer, it has been my privilege to learn from a number of amazing Kumu Hula or hula masters. As I mentioned in Part I, I recounted how knowing the Enneagram literally saved me when learning hula from different instructors. When I had an understanding of my teacher’s worldview or inner cosmology, I was less vulnerable to misunderstanding or hurt feelings. In my last post, I shared about a Six and an Eight. Here in Part 2, you’ll meet a Five, a Three, and a Nine.

When my first hula teacher passed away unexpectedly, our group was “inherited” by a Five kumu hula - I’ll call her R. Knowing her to be a gifted but demanding teacher, we were quite literally quaking in our pa`u (hula skirts).

She didn’t disappoint us. Right out of the box, she pushed and prodded us to moves more difficult than we thought we could ever perform. R never raised her voice, but to be the recipient of “the look” of icy disapproval spurred us all to become better dancers. The party was over. And we would do anything to avoid that look. (A hula halau is really a small family. I’ve heard a number of Fives on panels remark that they can be quite bossy and controlling in the comfort of their own families.)

As we became more proficient, more shy smiles and laughter were bestowed upon us. Rarely, we got a “that was beautiful.” Our group began winning the annual competition for our age group. We were not just enjoying hula, we were becoming better dancers.

My most illustrative Five story of her is this one. We were attending Merrie Monarch, the annual hula olympics held in Hilo, Hawaii. The young girls were entered in the competition. At the conclusion of the 4 day festival, all the Kumu Hula were invited up on stage to be introduced and feted.

R runs our hula halau with her Kumu Hula sister, M, who is a Three. M does fundraising and is the front person for the group while R choreographs and trains us. When the announcer called for them to come up on stage together, up comes M... and A! A is another Kumu Hula from Molokai, who pitches in during Merrie Monarch. R would not come out nor be seen.

We dubbed her “The Invisible Kumu”, even though virtually none of my hula sisters know the Enneagram. Every year that our group participates in this festival, A comes up on stage as R. Most of the other Kumu Hula know, as do we, who R really is. No one lets the kitten out of the bag. We all respect her need for privacy and space. I’ve grown to love her dearly, although she is still reserved with all of us.

H, one of my hula teachers, is a Three. At 83 years of age, she can outbend, outsway, and outlast any of her younger students. She yells at us to “Ai ha`a. Bend lower. You look like a bunch of sticks out there dancing.”

How we look is all important to H, as it is a direct reflection on her. I have to say that she is far and away the best hula fashionista. (K, our beloved Six, used to say “Ladies, ladies. Wear anything. It’s not about what you’re wearing. It’s about the dance.) The Three would never say that.

Now hula clothes by definition are not your normal apparel. Bright colors with huge flower prints are a mainstay. Color combos range from unusual to downright startling. Often, the halau gets to help choose fabric for outfits. (Although democracy in this case can be a bad idea.)

H simply told us what we would wear after carefully choosing colors that looked good on all of us. I have to say it, we looked great. And our hour long practices often stretched into two or three hours if we were to perform. She never expects more from us than she’ll give herself. Even now.

Finally, I’ve been blessed to learn most recently from a lovely Nine. G is kind and gentle in the extreme, yet corrects us by demonstrating how the dance should appear. We learn from her by emulating. She dances with us. She may be the most graceful hula dancer I’ve seen. And I’ve seen a lot.

As for conflicts? Regarding just about anything: scheduling, clothes, you name it? “Oh,” she laughs. “I’m not good with that. Talk to S.” [our bossy hula sister who does all the scut work. Loudly.] “She’ll take care of it.”

She seems to have no favorites, loving and embracing each of us equally. She gives feedback via her iPad, videoing us and letting us watch ourselves to see what works and what doesn’t. (She’s a high tech Kumu, but it allows her to help us without criticizing.)

And speaking of favorites, which is my favorite Kumu? All of them! The Enneagram illuminates the gifts of each and helps me understand each Kumu’s point of view. Somehow, knowing the Enneagram makes me appreciate them more deeply. And I don’t take it personally when they teach me coming from their own perspectives rather than mine or one I might expect. I’d love to learn from all Nine types if I could. For now, I’ll just revel in being part of a greater dance.

1 comment:

J said...

What a wonderful expression of enneagramatic (is that a word) knowledge. Typing people I first meet is one of my favorite ways to play with the enneagram. Excellent distinctions! Fun. Fun. Fun.