Dancing in a Hula Halau (Hula school) teaches you many wonderful things. Believe it or not, the art of Hula is not the most important thing you learn during your time in a Hula Halau.
Imagine this: It’s 11:00 am on a Saturday morning and it’s time for practice. All of the other haumana (students) are in line ready to go, but you are stumbling out of your car because you left your house 5 minutes late. Practice begins, and you are now officially late. Out of respect for your Kumu (teacher,) you pull yourself together and calmly walk over to the Halau where you need to oli (Hawaiian chant) permission to enter. You do the oli 3 times in a row, but because your Kumu is busy with the punctual students, you take a deep breath and do it again; this time chanting louder with more power in your voice. Your Kumu finally gives you permission to enter the Halau. *Note to self- Always be punctual
We begin with a Hula warm-up that we call “basics.” We practice our basic steps and our Kumu helps us make corrections as needed. This is to help fine-tune our skills. Your knees are bent and after an intense 30-minute drill they start to ache. You think you’re finally done and you’ve made it, when it’s announced that the final basic drills involve the dreaded o`opa (duck walk,) and the infamous Hula roll (A Hula roll involves sitting in between your legs on the ground and rolling your body around in a circle without the use of your elbows.) Your body feels like it could break. Your knees are shaking, and you start to get light headed as you power through these dreaded drills that are necessary to shape you as a dancer. *Note to self- You are stronger than you think; you can do anything you set your mind to.
In a Hula Hulau you are surrounded by tons of children who may be older than you, younger than you, and the same age as you. These are the people you rely on during practices, shows, and competitions. You grow so close to one another that you refer to each other as Hula brothers and Hula sisters. These children teach you teamwork, trust, and eternal love. They say once the stage lights come on dancers become multiple souls in one body. That’s because dancer’s movements should be in complete precision. Basically, when we dance Hula together, we are one. *Note to self- Always strive for your best; your brothers and sisters are counting on you.
Hula dancers are raised with respect for the Hawaiian culture, the land, and for all living things. Hula dancers learn discipline, and tend to have polite mannerisms. Hula dancers are raised with the strong Hawaiian value of aloha (love!) To be a great Hula dancer one must not only dance to make their Kumu (teacher) proud, but one must also exude the values and strength of a true Hula dancer.