Hawaiian Hula Dance 101
Greetings, friends! He-hey, hola amigos! Micky Mouse, I’m with ya. Oigan, do you want to come inside my home? So, let’s get going! ¡ Ups, oh ah ah, I always forget to say this! It is necessary to correctly pronounce the magical words in order for the house to appear, since else something unusual may occur. The magical words are: misca, musca, and Mickey Mouse. Say it with me: misca, musca, Mickey Mouse! M-I-C-K-Y M-O-U-S-E is an abbreviation for (I’m the one you’re looking for!) M-I-C-K-Y M-O-U-S-E is an abbreviation for Come and enjoy yourself at Micky Mouse’s house right now.
(Introducing Donald (here!) It’s Daisy (‘Aqu!’) time again!
Pluto (wof wof!) Ah-ah, here we are!” exclaims Minnie.
): Come and enjoy yourself at Micky Mouse’s house right now.
- Ha’a: This is the fundamental position, and it is where most hula begins. Dancers do this technique while standing straight with their knees bent. Known as the “lift,” this movement requires elevating the hips, which is literally translated as “lift.” Hela: One of the most fundamental foot motions, hela is performed when a dancer taps one foot to the side at approximately a 45-degree angle in front of their own body. The dancer keeps their weight on the opposite foot and maintains the bent-knee position throughout the movement. They then restore the foot to its original place and repeat the process with the opposite foot. When in Ka’i, the dancer elevates one foot, then rises and lowers the heel of the opposing foot, and so on. After then, the movement is repeated with the opposite foot. There are several varieties of this hip rotation, including the ‘Ami ‘ami (as seen in the video above), ‘Ami (as seen in the video above), and “Ami ku’upau.” It appears as a running movement, quite similar to that of the lewa. The lewa motion is performed by a dancer while traveling, according to Kâholo. After taking one step to one side and following it with the opposing foot, the dancer takes another stride to the same side
- ‘Uehe: When stepping down, the dancer lifts one foot and shifts their weight to the opposite hip, then elevates both heels to drive the knees forward. All of these actions are repeated on the other side. With each stride, the dancer raises their heel, which is another walking gesture
Hula has a long and illustrious history as it has strived to find and create its way in a world that is always changing.
- Hula dance was said to have originated on the Hawaiian island of Moloka’i, where the goddess of hula, Laka, is said to have given birth to it. By the time Captain Cook landed on the Hawaiian island of Oahu in 1779, the hula had been in use for decades. They were taken aback by the Native Hawaiians’ open manner of dance when they arrived in Hawaii in 1820 and felt that hula encouraged the practice of old pagan beliefs. They initiated an attempt to abolish hula on the islands and were successful in persuading Queen Kaahumanu, the wife of Kamehameha I, to have it prohibited in 1830. As a result of Queen Kaahumanu’s death in 1832, several chiefs began to question the prohibition on hula
- In 1834, Kamehameha III openly disregarded the prior “kapu” (law) prohibiting the public performance of hula. Starting in 1851, public hula performances were subjected to strict regulation with the implementation of a licensing system, which entailed a significant price for each performance. During King Kalakaua’s reign, hula saw a resurgence in popularity among the general people. Hula dancers and Hawaiian musicians toured the Hawaiian islands and mainland United States during Kalakaua’s reign (1883–1866), stating that “Hula is the language of the heart and therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people.” Kalakaua’s coronation in 1883 and Golden Jubilee in 1886 both featured hula performances. The Merrie Monarch Festival was founded in Hilo, Hawaii in 1963 by Helene Hale, the chairman of the County of Hawai’i, who wanted to find new ways to attract visitors to the island during a time of economic hardship. Hula Girls, an award-winning Japanese film directed by Sang-il Lee, premiered in Japanese theaters in 2006 and was a critical and commercial success in the country. Y Aoi, Yasuko Matsuyuki, and Etsushi Toyokawa star in this film. The film is inspired on the true tale of a group of girls who used hula to save their little mining hamlet, Iwaki, from a devastating earthquake. Members of a local hula dance ensemble, the “Obama Hula Girls,” gained national attention in 2008 when they assisted the people of Obama, a fishing port town in Japan, in celebrating President Barack Obama’s win.
The Haka: Poetry in Motion
The Maori dancers, who are dressed in little more than stunning face tattoos, take center stage. Following the eerie sound of a conch shell, a yell heralds the start of the battle dance. In unison, they smack their chests, stamp their feet, leap high and fall with a crash as they scan the crowd with menacing eyes and their tongues protruding out. A traditional Maori performance art and one of New Zealand’s most well-known cultural experiences, kapa haka is being demonstrated here. Haka (dance) is a collection of dances, postures, gestures, chants, songs, and stories that originated in the classic kapa (to stand in a row) dance.
“Whether it’s through the use of the eyes, hands, legs, voice, or tongue, the entire body is employed in communication.” Whenever I perform the haka, I feel alive and connected to my tupuna.
“I have the ability to rejoice, mourn, support, or protest.” There are several possibilities for visitors to witness the country’s unique dancing genre.
You can catch a glimpse of the dances near Lake Taupo’s Wairakei Terraces, or you might read more about them in Wellington’s magnificent Te Papa Museum.
What is the Haka?
The haka is to Maori culture what the hula is to Hawaiian culture in terms of popularity. During a birth or wedding, Maoris may choose to dance to express their happiness, or to convey a feeling of purpose while meeting a group of strangers for the very first time. War dances, which are characterized by wildly gesticulating bodies and scary face expressions, are intended to get the blood pumping.
War dances performed by the Maori were traditionally used to terrify and subdue opposing tribal groups. Not only did the violent motions strike fear into the hearts of their opponents, but they also energised Maori warriors and brought them together in combat.
Haka Peruperu vs Haka Taparahi
For Maori culture, the haka is equivalent to what the hula is for Hawaii culture. During a birth or wedding, Maoris may choose to dance to show their excitement, or to convey a feeling of purpose while meeting a group of strangers for the very first time. In order to get the adrenaline going, war dances are characterized by chaotic postures and terrifying facial expressions. War dances performed by the Maori were traditionally used to terrify and subdue opposing tribes. Apart from striking dread into the hearts of adversaries, the forceful gestures energised Maori warriors and brought them together in the fight.
Maori Chants and Their Meaning
The haka is to Maori culture what the hula is to Hawaiian culture, and vice versa. Maoris may dance to express their happiness after a birth or wedding, or to convey a feeling of purpose when meeting a group of strangers for the first time. War dances, which are characterized by frantic postures and terrifying facial expressions, are intended to get the blood pumping. Historically, fierce Maori war dances were the perfect way to scare other tribes. It wasn’t only that the violent gestures struck fear into the hearts of foes; they also energised Maori warriors and brought them together in combat.
Haka Dance Meaning: Legendary Beginnings
How did all of the giggling, wagging of the tongue, and stomping of the feet come to be recognized as the quintessential New Zealand experience that it is today? It all started off innocently enough. According to Maori folklore, the sun deity, Te Ra, had two wives at one point in his life. One wife represented the spirit of summer, while the other represented the spirit of winter. Te Ra and his summery wife had a son named Tanerore, who they named after the god of the sun. Tanerore used to dance around the house to entertain his mother when he was a child.
- As a result, haka was born.
- An similarly amusing tradition connects the origins of comedy in dance back to ancient Greece.
- These ladies were dispatched by the ancestor Tinirau to apprehend the person responsible for the death of his pet whale.
- The women created a brilliant strategy to encourage their audience to laugh by dancing, making funny expressions, and otherwise entertaining them.
- Naturally, the end product is a more lighthearted version of the haka.
- People communicate their ideas via the use of words and sounds produced by their tongues.
The use of an exaggerated tongue, in this context, symbolizes mastery over one’s words and thoughts. The traditions, chants, and songs of the Maori kapa haka are carried down from generation to generation through the use of gifted languages, which are passed down down the generations.
The Hula Movement
When hula classes begin in the auditorium of a San Francisco primary school on Potrero Hill, they begin with a BOOM BOOM, which is the sound of two full palms slapping against the side of a giant hourglass-shaped Hawaiian gourd. Half Hawaiian, Patrick Makuakane is seated on the platform, his strong legs wrapping around the gourd in front of him. His shock of black hair, obsidian-colored eyes, and baritone voice make him stand out among the other performers on the stage. Makuakane works as a personal trainer at the adjacent World Gym during the day, but in the nights he performs as an akumu hula.
The ladies are dressed in sweatshirts and gathered cotton skirts, while the guys are dressed in T-shirts and baggy briefs.
They include Luisa, a wiry Latina wearing a gray-blue baseball cap with the Nike logo; U’ilani, a native Hawaiian with prominent cheekbones, a cascade of thick black hair, and tailored pants peeking out from beneath her hibiscus-yellow skirt; Calvin, a fine-boned Japanese violinist who chants perfectly in key; and this writer, an ahaole, or Caucasian, who grew up in Hawaii but has The Monday Night Class is a part of Makuakane’shalau hula, or traditional school of dance, which has 160 members from all across northern California.
- We are known as the Monday Night Class because we meet on Monday nights.
- In recent years, the ancient art of Hawaiian dance has expanded far beyond its beginnings in the Pacific island of the same name.
- In the state of Hawaii, no fewer than eighty-ninehalau are flourishing.
- Among some fashionable groups on and around the West Coast, guys are increasingly sporting Hawaiian shirts rather than their traditional black shirts.
- In addition to being on the soundtracks ofMeet Joe Black andFinding Forrester, Kamakawiwo’ole’s 1993 albumFacing Future continues to sell well and is currently one of the best-selling Hawaiian albums of all time.
- It’s true that approximately 1,500 hula enthusiasts descended to the Big Island of Hawaii a year ago this July for a conference that included lectures on topics such as hula history and Hawaiian genealogy, as well as courses on ancient chants and the tie of hula to the earth.
- In an interview with me, Kekuhi Kanahele, executive director of the Edith Kanaka’ole Foundation, which was a co-sponsor of the event, said, “When we received a registration from Egypt, it was the first time we realized the scope of hula’s global reach.
- The sisters were awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1993 for their work in preserving the traditional art of hula via their school, Halau O Kekuhi, which they founded.
- With the release of Holo Mai Pele, it becomes evident how little actual hula matches the cliché depicted in Hollywood films like Blue Hawaiian andWaikiki Wedding, which depicts the dance as a lovely, rather simple-minded dance performed by nubile Polynesians in grass skirts.
- According to one old narrative, the dance arose when the goddess Hi’iaka danced to please her fiery sister Pele, the goddess of the volcano, in order to calm her.
- Gesture took a back seat to the repeated lyrics.
Hula chants served as a sacred text, preserving the relationship between the gods and mortals, heralding chiefs, commemorating sex and procreation, and venerating the subtleties of the natural world—the tumbling of waterfalls, the many faces of the moon, the plethora of mists and rains that fell in the tropics.
It was quickly outlawed.
In his proclamation, King David Kalakaua stated that “Hula” is “the language of the heart” and that it is “the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people.” With the help of Kalakaua, also known as the “Merry Monarch,” the dance was brought back to life, and traditional elements of poetry and chant were mixed with modern instruments and costumes.
- By 1959, when Hawaii was admitted as a state, the hula, along with other traditional Hawaiian practices such as fishing, playing the slack-key guitar, and speaking the Hawaiian language, had all but disappeared.
- The Merrie Monarch Festival, which takes place every year in Hilo, began as a way to promote the art of hula in 1964 and has since grown into a major cultural event.
- Since 1992, the World Invitational Hula Festival, held in the open-air Waikiki Shell, has aided in the expansion of hula competition across the world.
- According to Stillman, “What’s catching islanders off surprise is the level of hula done on the mainland,” as he explained to me earlier this year.
- They’re major candidates in this race.” It was Mahealani Uchiyama who founded one of the first mainlandhalauto to win a prize in an island competition fifteen years ago.
- “”After nine years of ballet,” she recently told me, “it became evident to me that Western dancing would provide few chances for a tall black lady.” As a result, I looked into different traditions.
- “Hula has always had a strong emotional resonance for me,” Uchiyama remarked.
- I enjoy a good challenge, whether it’s physical, psychological, or cerebral.” She relocated to California in 1982 and began an apprenticeship with akumu hulain Hayward shortly after.
- This dreadlockedkumu with beautiful, crane-like arms now teaches Hawaiian and Tahitian dance, as well as the Hawaiian language, to more than a hundred pupils in a barnlike loft situated between the Amtrak lines and the Magic Gardens nursery.
- He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1990, when he was twenty-nine years old.
Makuakane, on the other hand, adheres to tradition, teaching only time-honored styles of dance, such as hula kahiko, with its percussive, poetic chants honoring the powerful gods and legends of pre-contact Hawaii, and hula ‘auana, a fluid, graceful dance performed to the accompaniment of guitars and ukuleles and humorously celebrating the secular world.
- Like these, hula is a severe workout: while your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and hip extensors are stretched and straining, your arms are always in motion.
- However, hula has additional effects on the heart as well.
- There’s frequently more to the lyrics than the seemingly benign names would lead you to believe.
- “He Po Lani Makamae” is a poem that marvels at the beauty of a newborn infant as viewed through the lens of a full moon.
- “Mount Wai’ale’ale is doubly frigid,” starts the poem, which is written in obscure poetry.
- “No other dance form—not even yoga—makes me feel as spiritually and emotionally fulfilled,” my classmate Alicia Lo shared with me.
- “Genuine, full of true feeling,” Lo said of hula after experiencing the flash and glam of ballroom competition, with its forced attempts to impress judges.
- “I’ve always battled with finding my place in this world and making meaningful connections with other people.
But by dancing in line, perceiving and observing one another, we are demonstrating that we are ‘all for one and all for one.’ Hawaiians are quite accepting of you, even if you are not of Hawaiian descent. Hula allows me to feel like I’m a part of something much bigger than myself.”
Hula Dance Steps In Depth
|Know the Lingo!Once you have learned the terms for the hula dance steps and movements, you will not only have a good foundation for beginning to learn the hula dance but you will have a grasp of some Hawaiian words and their pronunciation.When you say these words out loud or hear them spoken, you will know that it is a lovely language. It is astounding to know that the original “Polynesian/Hawaiian” language was banned for several decades. It could not be spoken in schools and it was replaced by English as the official state language. In the 1970’s, when a revival of traditional Hawaiian culture came into being, the language began to be slowly reintegrated. It began to once again be spoken and taught.In the 19th century, there were 500,000 speakers of the old Hawaiian language. There are approximately 9,000 speakers of the Hawaiian language today. Nine percent of people who speak the language are native Hawaiians and these are mostly in the elderly population.Efforts to revive the language are making a slow but steady increase in its use. It is now being taught and spoken in several public schools in Hawaii.The Hula was originally called the Ha`a. It was not until the mid nineteenth century that it was given the name of “Hula”. “Ha`a” is defined in the dictionary as a dance with bent knees. Many of the steps contain “Ha`a” within their name. Some of the words defined for you are not actual steps, but movements within the various Hula steps.Following is an alphabetical list of Ha`a or “Hula” terms that have been passed down through the generations. Pronunciation is given wherever possible.After, there are a list of terms and steps that you will not find in the dictionary and a few words about hula chants.”Hula Speak”`Ai – style or type of dance.`Ai `ami (ai’ ah mee) – Hula with little foot movement, dancing with the hips rotating in a circular motion.`Ai ha`a (ai’hah ah) – Hula step done with bended knees. This step is done with chanting and the movements are done with emphasis.`Ai kawele (ai` kah veh leh), also referred to as “`ami poepoe” – Hula step where one foot moves forward in a half circle and off to the side without ever touching the ground. This is done in combination with other steps (see holo or `uwehe).`Ami (ah mee) – hip rotations`Ami`ami (ah’ mee ah’ mee) – To jerk the hips as if on hinges. Done in what is considered a vulgar manner. Simulates sexual intercourse.`Ami honua (ah’mee hoh noo’ (w)ah) – Rapidly rotating of the hips in hula. “honua” refers to the world or the earth.’Ami kahela (ah’mee KAH’ heh lah) – To rotate the hips with weight on the right hip and foot. The left heel is lifted slightly off the ground. The movement is then reversed with the weight on the left side.”kahela” means to spread out.`Ami kuku (ah’mee KOO’ Koo’) – Similar to `ami kahela but the movements are smaller and faster and done in three groups. These are sometimes combined with two slower kahele rotations.”kuku” is a beat of three on a pad and a slap added on the third rise.`Ami ku`upau (ah’ mee koo oo pau’) – An uninhibited hip movement with fast hip rotations. Literal meaning: uninhibited revolving hips.`Ami `oniu (ah’ mee OH’ niu) – Rotating the hips in a firgure 8, shifting weight from right hip to left.`oniu means “spinning”`Ami `opu (ah’ mee OH’ POO’) – Thrusting the abdominals forward. This is not considered to be in good taste.`opu means “stomach”`Aui – Hula step. The hula dancer will turn to the side and point the foot out and bring it back several times. The body tips forward, the lowered hand points at the toes of the moving foot and the other hand is raised the opposite way.Hela – Hula step. Knees are bent, weight place on one hip while the opposite leg and foot stretches out to form a 45 degree angle from the body.Holo – This step is much like the kaholo but the feet do not have to touch. A running side-step.Hue – Hip rotations done in perfect timing to the beat of the drum. These range from slow to very fast.Here’s a video that deomonstrates many of the hula steps mentioned on this page in a live hula dancing event.Ka`apuni – A hula spin referred to as “around the island”. The dancer twirls around in a circle on the ball of one foot while the other foot takes steps to complete the steps.Kahele – `ami rotations.Kaholo – The “vamp” step. One foot steps off the the side and the other follows, this is repeated for two steps to one side. Done to the count of 4, with each movement counting as 1 (foot out) 2 (other follows) 3 (foot out) 4 (other follows).Kawelu, Kalakaua – Performed at the beginning of the dance for King Kalakaua. The first foot taps with the heel keeping the toes in one place while the other foot steps forward and backwards for two or more repetitions. The feet are reversed and the step is repeated.Kelamoku – This hula step begins with one foot swinging and alternating ball to heel while the other foot is pointed to the front and then the back four times. The feet are reversed and step repeated in the same manner. While performing this dance, the knees are bent, the arms are held out and bent with the hands held up with fingers snapping and body swaying in time to the music.Ki`i, Waewae Ki`i – Right foot points to 3 o’clock, then 1 o’clock, then back to position with the left foot. Then the left foot points to 9 o’clock, then 11 o’clock and returns to position with the right foot. The step is said to have been done on Maui by Pele and Hopoe.Kupe (koo’ peh)- Feet stay in standing position, knees bend, body swings low to the right, left, then up. Repeated 3 times.kupe means “to stumble”Lele (leh’ leh) – Stepping forward, lifting the rear heel on every step, heel turns inward slightly. May be done backwards.lele means to fly, skip or leap.`0 (OH’) – Hip thrusts out in an “O” motion. This is much like the kawelu but the foot is pivoted as it turns in the opposite direction.`0 means to thrustUe, Uwe (oo’ (w)eh) – The drummer changes beat and the dancer extends the right foot to the front with pointed toes. Both arms are brought in front of chest, the hands are crossed and the fingers point up – The left hand remains in the upward position while the right arm and foot is swung in a backward arc. It ends with the toes of the right foot pointing to the back. The right arm and foot come forward again and the move is continued with the left limbs. Then, three steps forward, turn body to the right. In last step, the left hand is forward while the right foot and arm are back.ue means to jerk, twist, turn, or pull`Ulili (OO’ lee lee) – similar to the `uwehe (following), except one heels is raised at a time instead of two.`ulili refers to a whistle, tattle bird, or an instrument made from a gourd that makes a whirring sound.`Uwehe (oo weh’ heh) – one foot lifts, then as it is lowered, the weight is shifted to the opposite hip. Then the heels are raised and both knees pushed forward while the hips sway.`uwehe means to open, reveal or uncoverNot Found in the Dictionary!`Ai holoholo – same as “holo”Akalewa – Swaying the hips from side to sideHa`anapu – Same meaning as akalewaHehi – On count one, stamp right foot and raise left knee up to a position just below the hip. On count two, stamp the heel of the right foot while leaving the left knee in the air. On count three, switch legs and stamp the left foot while lifting the right knee. On count four, Stamp the left heel while leaving the right knee in the air.Hehi means on the count of.Ku`i – Done with loud stomping noise: hop onto the right foot while moving to the right and bring the left heel – toes pointing to the left- in front of the right knee at a distance of about six inches. Repeated four times and then switched to the other side and done again. The body is not supposed to bounce, only the legs are used.ku`i means to pound. It can also mean to join or unite.Ku`i Moloka`i – much like the k`ui, but while hopping to the right, the left leg goes out to the left with full extension. After the fourth count, the legs are switched. Meant to be done with a pounding noise.moloka`i – refers to the island of Moloka`iHilo Ku`i – The right foot touches the ground lightly in an alternating heel to toe motion. It begins with the heel and ends the same. Done in seven counts with the foot being placed in the start position on the count of eight. The toes should point to the right at an angle of 45 degrees. The foot is perpendicular to the floor or ground and the heel in a position to the right. The opposite foot bears the weight of the body and shuffles to the right, alternating heel to toe at an eight count. On the first count, the left foot is held still, on the second count, it begins to shuffle beginning with the heel. This is done by placing all weight onto the ball of the left foot while the heel turns to the right. The weight is transferred to the ball of the left foot and it is then moved to the right. Repeated until the right foot returns to start on the eighth count. Direction is changed and process starts again. Hilo means to twist or braid.Here’s another great videoKi`i Kuhi – Keeping time by ha’a gesturing with the left hand front and then back while the right hand taps on the lap.Double Hela – On the count of one the right foot is in the hela position. On count two, it is brought back beside the left foot. On count 3, it is once more in the hela position. On count 4, weight is shifted by stepping on the right foot.Ho`oholo glide or slide – kaholo step more than 2 counts. This is usually done in 3 to 4 counts.Ka’o – swaying from side to sideTriple – Hela step. The foot is pointed to the back, then side, then front.Ulepahu – On count one, stomp the ball of the right foot on the ground or floor. On count two, stomp the heel. On count three, stomp the ball of the left foot. On count four, stomp the heel.This step may have its origins in the “Ulepahu I ka Motu” chant.Finally, the “Quarter Turn” is the vamp step done within a semi-circle.When you are able to understand the terms and can put them with the steps, you will already know several words and their pronunciations. If you are interested in learning more about the culture of Hula, there is no better way to begin than to study hula chants.The Hula Preservation Society has several pages of chants that are written in both Hawaiian and English. You can also access pronunciation by playing audio for each phrase. To learn more about hula and the language of the people, visit the Hula Preservation Society’s page at:Traditionally, the chants are considered more important than the dance. Read some of them and you will see how hula dance is performed to a “mele” (chant) and understand how the dance interprets the meaning of the mele.by Hula Jack -Back to TopHula Dance
Secrets of the Dance
It’s not that my ascension into this world has been simple. The fact that I’ve arrived with introductions in hand doesn’t seem to bother Boyd, Baker, or Casupang, who all appear to be frightened of my presence. Immediately after shaking my hand, Boyd ducks into a corner, giving me an over-the-shoulder explanation that he needs to “do some things.” Boyd is an expansive man with a frantic energy. When I approach Baker, he greets me with a kind nod and then stares at me in quiet for almost 30 seconds.
- “Can you tell me what led you to believe you were interested in that?” It’s a valid point of contention.
- The preceding paragraphs, for the majority of you, undoubtedly felt a little bit like attempting to make your way through a Middle English sentence structure.
- What are all of those strange-sounding terms supposed to mean?
- And just what does it mean to be a hula spirit, precisely, according to the Hawaiian culture?
- The hula is a significant element of what we think of when we think of Hawaii, and it is as powerful a symbol of the islands as the islands’ gorgeous beaches and the world-famous resorts of Waikiki.
- When I was given the assignment, I immediately thought of a native girl coyly shimmying back and forth in her revealing grass skirt and coconut shell bra.
- It is not only me who believes in these pop-culture tropes: virtually everyone I spoke with believed in this picture of delightfully sexualized, pliant exotica, a view that has been inspired (and reinforced) by everyone from Elvis to the Brady Bunch.
- The origins of hula, or traditional Hawaiian dancing, may be traced back to the Polynesians, who first settled on the islands more than a thousand years ago.
- Because Hawaii was an illiterate culture until the early nineteenth century, its history, rituals, religious practices, and social norms were passed down from one generation to the next primarily via the medium of hula (Hawaiian dance).
- Everything from a life of bad luck to death and family shame was supposed to be brought about by even the tiniest error in a hula performance in ancient Hawaii.
“(The goddess Laka, the estranged sister of the Hawaiian fire goddess Pele, was thought to protect hula initiates while they learnt the dance, allowing them to focus on learning rather than worrying about making errors.)”
Explaining Hula Movements
How can I make my dance appear to be really Hawaiian? A RealHula virtual student from – are you ready? – Ukraine! – inquired about how to get a genuinely Hawaiian appearance to her dance in the RealHula community. I’ve done my best to convey those notions as well as I possibly can in written form. As is often the case, I believe that the questions posed by one haumana may be a reflection of a topic that is on the minds of many others. With that in mind, I’d like to share my response to a question from a Ukrainian haumana who inquired, “How can I make my dance appear more authentically Hawaiian?” While utilizing simply words will be tough, you may be able to tie verbal concepts to your body movement because of your dancing training.
The first thing to understand about hula is that its motions are diametrically opposed to those of all other dancing genres.
Hula, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of this.
The hip should always be one and a half counts behind the foot placement; this is what gives hula its languid appearance that is so captivating when done properly.
They took note of the way the wind blew the individual leaves of the palm trees about in the wind.
We can see that the individual leaves on the branch move independently of one another – rather than as a single unit.
There are no rigid Barbie Doll hands that have been sculpted into a solid form.
These natural motions were included into the body by the designers.
We come in touch with the natural rhythm – we take a deep breath and allow ourselves to be carried away by the current of nature.
Before any action can be taken, it is necessary to prepare.
You should also elevate your left hip, as if you were about to tuck it under your left armpit, and place your right foot close to the left foot in preparation for the initial step.
(Did you understand everything?) Preparation is the first stage in every process.
Polynesian dance, whether it be Maori, Tahitian, or Hawaiian, places a great deal of emphasis on the heels.
The hip movement is a figure-eight with one foot on the edge of the table.
Therefore, the right hip should be elevated on the right side as if you were going to put it under your right armpit on the left side.
On the third count, you begin a two-count preparatory process.
During kaholo practice with my kids, I frequently chant “slow, slow, quick” as they walk right, left, right, and make a lot of preparation.
They chop off a section of count four and sprint to the beginning of the next count.
Count-one must p-u-l-l you away from count-four, despite your best efforts.
A fraction of a second should never be allowed to go between the hand, the hips, and the feet before the beat.
I like to compare it to the experience of riding a bicycle.
The left hip will be raised when we walk right and the right hip will be elevated when we step left if we spread out our palms flat on each side of our hips and believe that your hands are now your foot.
In my tradition, we roll our foot in the same manner that we do when walking.
You will see that the hip and the foot do not go forward at the same time if you perform this extremely slowly in front of a mirror, as shown below.
Polynesian dance takes the body as it naturally moves and exaggerates the movement in order to create a more dramatic dance.
You can watch it being taught and done step-by-step throughout the video. I hope this is of some assistance to all of our cherished virtual students who are dancing the hula with us here in the homeland from all over the world. Dancing with abandon! Kumu Kea is a Hawaiian shaman.