March 17, 2011

how to hula dance (:

Hula dancing is a great activity to be involved in. Hula is the best way to get physical activity, learn symbolic dance moves, and attract brown boys. In a few simple steps, you could be on stage, shaking your hips for the world.

1) The first and most important step is to bend your knees. If all else fails, make sure that your knees are bent! Your feet need to be flat on the floor, and your shoulders should be level. While you dance, your torso needs to remain completely stable. Beware of bouncing or rocking while you dance, because your audience might become seasick.

2) The basic step of hula is kaholo. Begin by facing your body to the audience. Ball up your fists, and place them on your hips so that the space between your elbows and waist makes a triangle. Your head needs to face the way that you are moving. Your back should be straight, and your shoulders relaxed.

3) Turn your head to the right. Take a side step to the right with your right foot. Bring your left foot over to meet the other one. Repeat this step so that you’ve taken two to the right. This move is similar to the grape vine except that one, you’re hula dancing and not doing Jane Fonda aerobics, and two, your feet don’t cross over each other. For kaholo, this “step-touch-step-together” motion will be repeated many times, alternating from left to right. Remember that when you are moving to the left, your head should be facing left. You always look in the direction that you are going. That’s also an important life lesson. Always look toward the path you are headed. (A mini step that I will insert here is that hula dancers should be very in tune with nature and symbolism).

4) Make sure that your knees are still bent and that your arms are in the right place. This is key to step four, which is hip motion. When you step with your right foot, your weight naturally shifts to the left leg. This forces your hip to push left. As your weight is transferred to the right leg, your hips will follow it and end up poking out on the right. The more you bend your knees, the more exaggerated the movement becomes. Ensure that you are confident with the step pattern before you begin focusing on hips. Also, don’t overdo the hips because then you might end up looking fake and all the islanders will call you a haole.

5) Smile! If you ever find yourself completely lost on stage, be sure to smile (and bend your knees). When people watch hula dancing, they expect to see a happy and cheerful girl. Be her! Unless you’re a guy, in which case you need to be reading the article about “how-to-do-the-haka” or “how-to-eat-as-much-food-as-you-want-without-getting-full.” Regardless, be sure to smile. (Cue segue for next life lesson.) You should always smile all the time anyway, no matter how you’re feeling. Your attitude could potentially brighten someone else’s day. That truly is the spirit of aloha, choosing to be happy and spreading that joy.

6) Now that you know how to do the basic step of hula, it’s time to look the part. Hula dancers traditionally have thick, long, and dark hair. If your hair isn’t styled that way, it’s time to grow it out. Puritans had it right when they said that hair is a form of womanly vanity. Once your hair is long and luscious, clip a flower into it; put it behind your right ear if you’re single, and left if you’re taken. Or you can lie about your status in order to pick up cute Hawaiian boys. For your outfit, pa’u skirts are traditionally worn. They are scrunched on the top and then bell out at the bottom so as to emphasize hip movement. A pa’u top is cute similarly to a tube top. (It does show off your shoulders; however, they are worn at the LDS Polynesian Cultural Center, meaning that it’s kosher for Mormons to wear pa’u tops.) Jewelry can supplement the outfit and make you look more professional. A lei of kukui nuts would look really nice along with a few anklets and bracelets. For a more traditional style of dance, a leaf headdress would be great.

Above all, hula dancing should be fun. Now that you know the basic step of hula, practice it, perform it, and master it. (Then look for the “how-to-do-other-hula-steps-besides-kaholo” article.) Life is about trying new things, finding what you love, and sticking with it.

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