How to hula dance hips

Explaining Hula Movements |

How can I make my dancing look truly Hawaiian?

RealHula virtual student from - are you ready? - Ukraine! - asked about achieving a truly Hawaiian look to her dancing. I have made my best effort to attempt to communicate those concepts in words. As is often the case, I think the questions asked by one haumana may reflect a similar question on the minds of many. With that in mind I am sharing my response to my Ukrainian haumana who asked "How can I make my dancing look truly Hawaiian?"

This will be very difficult using only words - but perhaps as a dancer you can know how to relate verbal concepts to your body movement, we will attempt that together.

The first thing to know is that the movements in hula are absolutely opposite of all other dance forms. What I mean by that is that in other dance forms, the dancer must anticipate the beat and be there on the first count. Hula is opposite of this. Because the hula is language driven, not just rhythm driven, the music and the words PULL the dancer. In addition to that, the hip is always 1⁄2 count behind the foot placement - that is what gives hula that languid look that is so hypnotic when done properly.

The Hawaiians lived in nature, and were keen observers of the natural movements around them. They took notice of how the wind moved the individual leaves of the palm trees. Just as the tree does not anticipate that the wind is coming and therefore lay down in preparation for itʻs arrival, but responds to the touch of the wind, then releases, so do the hands and the hips of the hula dancer respond to the words and the rhythm - always responding - never pushing in anticipation. We notice that the individual leaves on the branch move separately - not as a single unit. So do the hula fingers each have a part of the movement to share. No stiff, Barbie Doll hands molded into a solid shape.

They also observed how the ocean builds up energy, rolls to shore, seem to take a breath to build up energy and then returns to begin again. They incorporated all of these natural movements into the body. As a hula dancer, we actually bring the natural world into our bodies when we dance. We get in touch with the rhythm of nature - we take a breath and release ourselves into this natural flow.

We carry the endless movement of the ocean in our hips when we do the kāholo. Every movement must be prefaced by preparation. The preparation for hula is to have the upper body erect, knees bent, all of the weight on the left foot, the left hip raised as though you are going to tuck it under your left armpit, the right foot in a tap position next to the left foot in preparation for the first step. (Whew! Did you get all of that?) Every step begins with preparation.

With the first step the left hip is raised by rolling the weight from heel to toe of the left foot as the right foot is placed flat on the floor, heel touching first (so many dancers dance on the balls of their feet - this is not Polynesian. Polynesian dance carries the weight on the heels whether itʻs Maori, Tahitian or Hawaiian. ).

The second movement is the hip releasing as all of your weight gets placed on the right foot (weight on heel first) which then begins the same preparation on the right. The movement of the hips is a figure-eight standing on edge. The second count is the hardest to perfect - it must have as much preparation as the first count. Which means the right hip must be lifted on the right as though you will tuck it under your right armpit.

Counts three and four and the hardest, and the ones that will make the most difference in your overall look! On count three you begin a two count preparation. The hip takes two counts to complete a much larger preparation. When my students kaholo I often chant “fast, fast, s - l - o - w and.... as they move right, left, right and big preparation.

Most non-Hawaiʻi trained hula dancer miss this very important aspect (as do many Hawaiʻi dancers). They cut off a portion of count four and rush to count one. No! Count-one must p-u-l-l you away - reluctantly - from count-four. I try to get my students to use their breath - I say “dance on your breath”... inhale on count four as you do a big preparation and exhale as you release all of that pent-up energy created in preparation of count one. Neither the hand, the hips nor the feet should ever be ahead of the beat by even a fraction.

The knees, of course, are the pistons that drive the hip, which is why we must ai haʻa, or bend our knees. I like to relate it to riding a bicycle. When one pedal is down, the other pedal is up. If we put our hands out flat, pressed to either side of our hip palm-down and then imagine that your hands are now your foot, when we step right, the left hip will be high and when we step left the right hip will be lifted. This is a very visual way of learning to move the hip.

In my tradition we roll our foot just as we do when we walk. When we walk we step forward with the right foot, but our weight is still on the left foot until we roll our weight off of the left foot and transfer it to the right foot. Do this very slowly in front of a mirror and you will see that the hip and the foot do not move forward at the same time. Notice how the foot is rolled from heel to toe as the weight is shifted. Polynesian dance takes the body as it moves naturally and exaggerates the movement in the dance.


If you havenʻt studied our Basic Hula DVD, I would encourage you to do so. You can see it being taught and executed....each step. I hope this is of some help to all of our valued virtual students out there around the world dancing hula together with us here in the motherland. Joyous dancing!

~ Kumu Kea

Hula Posture and Teachings |

The Eyes Have It 


When we dance hula the body becomes the outward expression of all of the levels of meanings in the text - both the inner meaning (called kaona) and the outer meaning reflected in the surface understanding of the poetry. We use our entire body to sway like the wind, reach for the sun or the moon, incline to the earth or the sea. As we personify the text, let us never underestimate the importance of the eyes. My teacher, Bella, always said that if the dancer doesn't demonstrate interest in her own gestures by looking at them, the audience will get the message that they aren't worth noticing as well. Our eyes must follow the important gestures in our dance.

How that is done effectively may be a bit of a mystery. When we are in the hula position with extended arm, our entire head should be turned slightly in that same direction, the eyes should not be fastened on the extended hand, but rather gaze a foot or so above the extended hand and focused about 100 yards beyond. We want to appear to be gazing at the object we are gesturing about. Indeed, we should be "seeing" that object in our minds eye as we dance. Sometimes we look more directly at the hands. For instance, when we gesture a tree, or a moon or sun, a flower - any specific object - we will look at the gesture itself. But for more general terms we will look in the direction of the gesture and 100 yards beyond. Some gestures will take our eyes directly to the audience. This is an effective way to engage your audience. If this unnerves you, look about a foot above the heads of the audience. It will have the same effect.

Remember where the eyes go the attention will follow.

It's All About the KNEES


When we think of the hula we think of the swaying hula hips. However, the movement does not originate from the hips. The hips sway as a result of the shifting of the weight from one foot to the other in the 'aiha'a, or bent knee position. In this position the knees are the engine that moves the hips as the weight changes. 

There are several important things to remember about the knees. Foremost is that hula works with the natural structure of the body - it merely exaggerates the natural movement. The position of strength for the body to carry or lift weight is with the knees bent and the knee caps turned outward. Think of the weight lifter. Feet under the shoulders, toes turned out, deep knee bend and using the leg and midsection to hoist the weight up.  What would happen to his knees if his knees came together when he lifted rather than his knees pointing outward? He would rip his knee muscles! 

We use that same position of strength for the hula. Feet directly under shoulders - no wider, no narrower. Toes pointing out slightly farther than the heels. Knees always pointing away from one another. The weight is carried on the outside of the foot, so that the arches do not roll inward causing the knees to come toward each other. With each and every movement the knees are facing slightly outward.At no point do the knees come together in a pigeon-toed way. It is not only supremely ugly, it is very harmful for your knees and will cause injury in time - as little time as two or three years. The inside of the knee-cap is simply not designed to support that kind of weight. This is true also when one goes all the way down to the floor with the movement. Feet close together, knees slightly apart and facing outward. 

If you take care of your body in this way, your knees will support you painlessly through all of your years of dancing - forevermore. Wishing you joyous knee's-outward dancing!

Shifting your Weight


Aloha Nui my Haumana,

As we move into a new year of 'shifting' times, I'm reminded of the shift in weight necessary to achieving and expressing the beautiful and natural flow of hula. Check yourself to see if you are concentrating on moving your hips when you need to be concentrating on shifting your weight.

Hula is a dance form rooted in the natural way the body moves. When you bend your knees, shift your weight completely with every step and let your hip follow behind your weight shift. It should require very little effort. Your muscles might get tired at first because you are building new ones. Hang in there as this discomfort will go away soon.

Always shift your weight by putting your weight first on the heel while you roll your hip off the opposite side rolling off of your toe. It's easier to understand by taking notice of how you walk: the weight is on the left foot, the right foot moves forward and the heel goes down first. The weight then moves from the heel, rolling off of the toe on the left foot, as it prepares to move forward.

Examine this natural movement carefully and then apply it to your kaholo, your lewa - all of the hula steps. Each move is full and natural. Relax your body so that it flows with the natural rhythm of the music or the ipu. Are you ready to try? 

Sending you a heart-felt mahalo for your support. As we begin 2009, remember to slow down and return to those things that are sacred to you as you realign with the energies of love and Earth.  In gratitude.



Aloha my Haumana (students), 
Posture! Posture! POSTURE! This is your ancient "key" to dancing hula with stature and grace. Keep your head regally high with your back arched. Your 'lift' is best achieved when it comes from the ribcage area. Try it now. Do you feel your stomach muscles tightening? Your core strength and command of advanced hula movements will come from a deep connection with your abdomen.  

PRACTICE consciously as you check your reflection in a mirror. Be consistent and it will become natural and a part of who you are.  Remember to "walk tall" in all that you do, are and will be.  Blessings to all.

~Kumu Kea

Hawaiian Hula Dance: Aloha Studio

What is so special about the Hawaiian hula dance - for me ? Why do I love her so?
First of all, probably - for the fact that every time it instantly immerses me in an enthusiastic and happy perception of the world, as in childhood - and at the same time fills me with silence, peace, wisdom and myself, as it happens only at the feet of the Sage ...

This is the rediscovery of the joy and value of the simplest things - everything that tells me: I live, I am loved, the world is beautiful .

And this is fantastic, incredible tenderness in every step and every gesture.
Posture, strong and beautiful legs-waist, deployed shoulders, and the whole healing effect of hula - in essence, all other types of dance give plus or minus. But such a vivid experience of one's body as a continuously flowing tenderness - no other dance direction in the world gives. Not a single abrupt movement, not a single broken line, not a single song "about suffering" - only aloha in 1000 shades and situations.

Because they are Hawaiians

Because they know how to experience life and every situation as necessary, useful, perfect. And the pain is perfect if you know with all your heart that nothing in the world happens by chance, all colors come out from under one brush - the brush of God. And He paints his picture with Love, and only with it. So - the pain is needed, I just don't know why. But what's the trouble with that? The main thing is that God knows it. And this is enough not to be nervous, but to live calmly and this stage in the understanding that it is important and necessary. And the spirit of aloha does not leave us even at such moments.

1. The healing effect of hula: the physical aspect

We read:
"Hula is a healing and harmonizing dance that has a beneficial effect on the spine and allows you to restore posture, increases flexibility, improves the condition of joints, muscles, ligaments, allows you to calm down, feel your body.

Hula dance gives not only pleasure and relaxation, but also carries out therapeutic work.The term HULA itself in translation means "kindling the inner fire".In Hula, an essential element of therapy is the smooth movement of the hips.The hips symbolically and physically connect the upper and lower parts of the body - the torso and legs.Relaxation the muscles of the hips and the healing of this part of the body contributes to a better movement of energy from the legs to the trunk, which increases vitality, promotes emotional balance and better "grounding" and at the same time promotes the integration of the spiritual and physical aspects of a person. to building a very calm and p weakened basis of the whole personality.

Nowadays, Hawaiian Hula is becoming very popular in many countries around the world. For example, in Japan, in one of the dance schools, Hula trains 5,000 people. Japanese doctors have confirmed that this dance is a good activity for people of all ages and helps to maintain health. Hula leads to general relaxation, increases the level of vitality, corrects coordination of movements, and dramatically improves well-being.

Hawaiian dance classes are very useful for older people. It is believed that they help normalize blood pressure, have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, improve the functioning of internal organs, and develop flexibility. But most importantly, they awaken a taste for life. And they are very easy to learn. Just imagine that you are spinning a hoop. And now all this is only with music and songs. By the way, it is no coincidence that the hoop is scientifically called the hula hoop. The name is derived from the Hawaiian hula dance."

These are excerpts from various sources of what is in Russian about Hawaiian dances in terms of physical health.

And in fact, my dancing and teaching experience says that all this is true.
Relaxation, normalization of pressure (since stress disappears), balance, well-being, tone (including in the pelvic organs), a taste for life - this is 100%.

But such things as the figure, the flexibility of the spine, joints and muscle strength (legs, buttocks, arms) and other more serious health effects - all this is real only if you dance at least 2-3 times a week (for an hour) .
And don't goof off on the load :)) - yes, yes! As a teacher, I see how many students dance on almost straight legs, for example - and this is already minus 80% of the same healing effect.

And even beautiful posture, gait and deployed shoulders with a high chest - will become yours only if you practice not just hula, but practice in a professional position of the dancer's body (lesson 4.2). To dance even 5 times a week, but without such depth of bodywork (but simply following "Lesson 4.1 Basic Hula Rules") - this is flexibility, blood supply, tone, heart, pressure - but not posture and not gait.
Believe a person who has been dancing "just hula" for 5 years and has been dancing "according to all the rules and subtleties" for 2 years now. The difference is huge.

And by the way: Hawaiian hula, even without “posture”, that is, with minimal technique, is extremely beneficial not only for people of young and middle age. But it is directly shown as a burden for such unexpected categories of people as:

  • pregnant women,
  • slings,
  • men and women over 50, and even 60 and 70 :))

Because the load itself, the very specificity of hula, is a very gentle effect on the body.

In our Studio, about half of all students are women over 50-60 years old :)).

Hula-seminar in Russia, leads Kuano Torres Cahele
Hula already applied as a health-imperitical master therapy !!!

(the latter - in a lightweight version of the plastic, of course).

2. Healing effect of hula: psychological aspect

... as well as emotional, soulful, harmonizing, etc.

"Hula is an excellent instrument.
In the Hula dance, whose name in translation means "kindling the sacred inner fire", through movement, rhythm, singing and symbolism you will feel the manifestations of the primordial wisdom that lives in each of us.It is she who will help us remember how to maintain inner silence and harmony, living in the frantic rhythm of the metropolis, from where we can take strength for daily activities.0006

Hula is the expression of feelings through movement. The Hula performer in the dance can tell about the beauty of the island, about the weather, about life itself on Earth, imitating the sun, sea, earth, trees, rain, rainbow, birds.
O mastery of the art of shapeshifting consisted in the ability to adopt the characteristic features of animals or objects with the help of singing, acting or dance, merge with the forces of nature and influence them through resonance .

An important integral element in the science of Hula dance is the rhythm that harmonizes the psyche. Hula is a polyrhythmic dance. Its execution leads to the restoration of coordination between the upper and lower, as well as the right and left parts of the body. They can move independently, sometimes in different rhythms, but in a coordinated way that balances the cerebral hemispheres and restores full coordination of movements.
Another translation of Hula can be "not getting on" the wrong road by being in the rhythm. Developing better motor coordination, brain synchronization and a sense of rhythm helps a person prepare for life's many situations and become more alert. It becomes easier to save yourself from life's mistakes. b

Well, another therapeutic aspect of Hula is Hawaiian music, songs and the symbolic meaning of the legends. Music and songs have a calming effect on many people. Hula dance can be danced at any age and without special training. "

Unlike the physical effect, the degree of which significantly depends on how often and how technically deep (posture) you do hula, ALL of the above psychological aspects and "usefulness" hula are ALWAYS present
This is what you feel as soon as you start dancing, from the first sounds of Hawaiian music and from the first swaying of the hips.
And that's what you feel until the very last minute of a workout or performance.
Every time.
And it's just a miracle.

Yes, each master gives kaona (the sacred meaning of each dance) in his own way, and someone may not. And not everyone succeeds, or it doesn’t work right away, to deeply experience the stories of dances, to pass them through oneself so that the whole body and all feelings vibrate in unison - for this you really need to master the art of reincarnation (see the highlighted text above).

But, again, my experience is that the kaona in the heart of each dancer is revealed in its own way, and this always happens. Even if the person came to class for the first time.
And even if he just watched the lesson from the outside: the words of the coach, and the music, and the movements resonate in him even in this case, and awaken some important thoughts, some feelings.
Because hula stories - what we dance - are always parables.
And parables, you know, sound differently for each person, but always wisely.
Exactly as it is relevant and important for you here and now.

And all this together is hula magic.

Hawaiian hula dance Online publication "Elements of Dance"

Outside the homeland, the dance can be seen quite often. The peculiar spiritual practice of the Polynesians appealed even to the conservative Japanese: in some dance schools in the Land of the Rising Sun, up to 5,000 students study hula.

The formation of the dance took place over several centuries, and today there are several versions of it: the actual Polynesian hula kahiko and the modern hula auana formed under the influence of Europeans, and it is the second version that is popular. As for kahiko, since ancient times this dance has been more solemn than entertaining. It was dedicated to the goddess Laka, and also performed at ceremonies honoring the leaders. They treated him with full responsibility: the slightest mistake during the dance was interpreted as a bad sign.

Hula is associated with ancient legends about local gods and heroes: according to one of them, the author of the dance was the aforementioned Laka, while in another it is about the mighty hero Hiiaka, who, with the help of this dance, tried to calm his angry sister Pele, the patroness of volcanoes. According to another version, the creator of the hula was Pele herself, who first performed it on the top of the crater.

The people, who for a long time did not have a written language, created their chronicle through movements, and the hula dance is a story in which every gesture has a meaning. Connected with nature and dependent on its whims, since ancient times, the Hawaiians have sought to appease their gods, glorifying the spirits that patronize the mountains, the ocean, and the earth.

To Europeans who arrived in Polynesia at the end of the 19th century, hula seemed to be an overly frank pagan dance, and therefore fell under the ban. The Christian missionaries must have been shocked to see the practically naked dancers dressed only in grass skirts. However, having undergone censorship, the dance did not disappear without a trace - it simply entered a new phase of development. This is how auana arose, a variant of hula, which today is considered almost a local landmark and attracts tourists from all over the world. And girls adorned with flowers and making leisurely wave-like movements with their arms and hips can be seen in every creation of the Hollywood Dream Factory, if we are talking about Hawaii.

But the essence of the dance has not changed, and it is still based on the idea of ​​unity with nature, despite the fact that even the musical instruments that accompany it are of Western origin: electric guitar, bass guitar, ukulele (Hawaiian variety guitars).

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