How to hulu dance

Learn How to Hula Dance! | How to Hula Dance for Kids


Famous for its sandy beaches and warm weather, Hawaii is a tropical paradise. Part of what makes Hawaii so special is its rich island culture. Hawaiians have their own traditions, language, and even their own dance form called Hula. Hula is a graceful art form that is danced to the words of a song (mele) or chant (oli). Ancient Hawaiians danced Hula to tell stories about their history and to celebrate the beauty of nature. But you don’t need palm trees to enjoy Hawaiian culture. Get ready to move your feet, swing your hips, and learn to dance the Hula with Little Passports! With a these easy-to-learn dance moves, you and your little ones can bring the beauty of the islands right to your doorstep.

Step-by-Step Hula

Move your feet!

Stand facing forward with your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees. Step 8 inches to the right. Bring your left foot to meet your right foot, keeping your left foot slightly off the floor, and tap the ground once with the ball of your left foot to complete the move. Repeat, taking another step the right, bringing your feet together, and tapping the ground with the ball of your left foot. Now go back the way you came! Step to the left, bring your right foot to meet your left and tap the ground with the ball of your right foot. Repeat this move to the left again. That’s it! Continue to practice stepping two times to the right and then two times to the left until you feel comfortable with the footwork.

Did you know?  Hula is almost always danced barefoot.

Did you know?  Traditional Hawaiian instruments that accompanied Hula dances were made of shells, rocks, and even teeth!

Now add your hips!

Keeping the same pattern–two steps right and two steps left–try adding some hip movements. During the Hula, your hips should keep a gentle rocking or swaying motion–similar to the ocean waves! When you step to the right, lower your right foot toe-to-heel and lift your left hip up. As you bring your feet together, switch so that your right hip is up. Before your next step, sway your hips side-to-side. Repeat the same motion as you take your second step to the right. Remember to sway your hips side to side before each step. Now try this motion to the left: left foot toe-heel, right hip up, feet together, left hip up, rock hips side to side. Repeat. Make sure to keep your knees bent and hips loose as you continue to step and sway!

Complete the move with arm motions!

Extend your arms out to the side at shoulder level. Bend your left arm so your hand is in front of the left side of your chest and your palm is facing down. Your right arm should stay extended, with your elbow slightly bent and fingers together. As you take your steps to the right, move your arms in a gentle,  wave-like motion. Before your first step to the left, switch your arms so that the left arm is extended and the right arm is bent in front of the right side of your chest. As you take your steps to the left, continue to move your arms in a wave-like motion. As you move, keep your body relaxed and your shoulders still. Remember to switch arms every time you switch directions.

Did you know?
Hand and arm motions can be used to represent emotions or aspects of nature.

Add your own flair!

Once you’ve mastered this basic Hula dance, feel free to add some more moves from the list below to spice it up! Remember to use your face and eyes to tell the story of the song you are dancing to.

Ami: With hands on your hips, rotate your hips in a circular motion.

Ka`apuni: Keeping your hips moving in a circular motion like the Ami, pivot around the left foot and step slowly with the right foot around the left foot to complete a full turn.

Rising Sun Hand Movement: Start with your hands together at knee level. In a sweeping motion, move the arms outward and upward until they are above your head and fingertips nearly touch. Form the shape of sun with your arms extended over your head with your palms turned upward and your fingertips touching.

Uwehe: Standing with feet hip-width apart, step in place with your right foot. Keeping knees bent, lift both heels up off the ground in a popping motion, and then place them back down. Now step in place with your left foot. Do the popping motion again.

Hela: Starting with your feet together, point your right foot forward. Return feet together. Point the left foot forward. Bring your feet back together.

Love Hand Movement: With your palms facing your body, cross your hands in a X-shape on your chest to show embracing love.

Don’t forget to smile and have fun!

Learn How to Hula Dance! from Little Passports on Vimeo.


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Hula as a Sustainable Practice

By Charlotte Cheek, Hawaiʻi Community College Sustainability Initiatives Coordinator and Kupu Community Resilience VISTA

In consultation with Drew Kapp, Hawaiʻi Community College Geography Instructor and Kūkūʻena Hula Cohort Member

This summer has been unlike any other; the pandemic brought stay-at-home orders, a transition to online classes, the unprecedented cancellation of the Merrie Monarch Festival, and the closure of parks and beaches. This unusual situation has forced us to change our lives and pay closer attention to our surroundings and our connections with the world. As we examine our relationship with the world, many of us are yearning for a deeper connection with the earth. People across the globe are refocusing on their surroundings, turning to walks around their neighborhood and gardening to keep themselves physically and mentally well. This can be a good time to reflect on practices that are linked to sustainability.

Hula is an example of a traditional practice with roots in sustainability. Hula was traditionally performed as part of ceremony, to honor deities, praise chiefs, describe environmental phenomena, offer historical accounts, tell stories, entertain, and much more. Hula still retains these functions, and is practiced throughout Hawaiʻi and the world, and is seen in kīpaepae, protocols, classes, celebrations, exhibitions, competitions, demonstrations, and expressions of environmental kinship. Many aspects of hula have connections to the natural world, including the dancing itself, mele and oli (songs and chants), the practice of kuahu, ʻaʻahu (costuming), and implements. Just a few weeks before stay-at-home orders were put in place, a few members of a Hawaiʻi-CC/UH-Hilo joint hula cohort discussed how hula makes them feel more connected to the environment.

This cohort, called Kūkūʻena, is one of many in the Unukupukupu family, which is a specific Hula curricula under the stewardship of Dr. Taupōuri Tangarō, Hawaiʻi-CC Hawaiian Studies Professor, Director of Hawaiian Protocols and Engagement, and Kumu Hula. The Kūkūʻena cohort was formed in 2008 by Tangarō, together with Gail Makuakāne-Lundin, UH-Hilo Director of Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center and Director of the Office of Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao. Kūkūʻena are now under the direction of Kainoa Ariola, UH-Hilo Interim Associate Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs and Kumu Hula, who herself was once a Kūkūʻena, and a student who went through the ʻūniki process (graduated) under Tangarō. Kūkūʻena cohort members have included faculty, staff, administrators and traditional students from both Hawaiʻi-CC and UH-Hilo. The cohort’s namesake, Kūkūʻena, is an elder sister of Pele, whose functions include caretaking the hearth, ʻawa ceremony, lei-making, and guiding others. The functions of the cohort include bridging campuses and institutions through hula and Hawaiian cultural practice, fostering success of Native Hawaiian students and all students at both institutions, and supporting community relations. Kūkūʻena Karla Sibayan, Secretary for the Hawaiʻi-CC Nursing Program, shared how the cohort contributes to institutional indigenization efforts, “using hula as the foundation… and thinking about student success through the eyes of hula.”

When many people think of hula, dancing is often the first thing that comes to mind. Many elements of the dance have connections to the environment, as many of the dances emulate environmental phenomena. In fact, Kūkuʻena shared that when they dance they strive to embody, to become the environmental element, whether itʻs the wind, a volcanic eruption, the sea.

Allie Atkins, Hawaiʻi-CC Science and Botany Lecturer and member of Kūkūʻena spoke about how dancing hula helps her feel connected to the environment. “Hula is trying to bring the environment into your dancing and into your thoughts,” she said.

There is no hula without the words and chants that accompany the dancing. The motions follow the words, and the words often prompt the dancer to emulate or embody the natural environment, as the words are creating imagery of environmental elements ranging from volcanic activity to surf, winds, rains, mountains, plants and animals, specific places. These environments and elements can also speak to emotions, relationships, circumstances, or stature. Hula tells a story through environmental imagery.

“There are layers of meaning to everything we dance, and the more you learn ʻŌlelo, the Hawaiian language, the more that opens up to you,” said Leo Kalama, a longtime Kūkūʻena, and Hawaiʻi-CC and UH-Hilo graduate. Trina Nahm-Mijo, Hawaiʻi-CC Professor and Department Chair of Social Sciences, spoke fondly of the way Tangarō had the cohort make connections to the chants. “He always encouraged us to have that personal relationship with the chant… You realize why the Hawaiian ancestors were inspired to write about their experience; it makes everything come alive.

While many elements of hula, such as oli and dance, are symbolic of the environment, some aspects of hula directly involve nature in a tangible way. For example, dancers go into the forest to gather plants for lei and ʻaʻahu. Before entering the forest, they conduct protocol including chant to announce their presence, state their intentions, and request permission to enter. “[We get] out into the environment regularly, not just once a year,” Allie said. “You start to get that mentality of mālama.” This speaks to reciprocity that is also part of the practice.

The plants chosen for placement in hālau as part of the practice of kuahu speak to the hula practionerʻs commitment. Each plant contributes a different element of inspiration to the practice, and the dancers develop personal relationships with those kinolau (multiple forms, manifestations). The position and roles of these plants in their respective forest ecosystems often speaks to what they bring to hālau, whether they provide an understory foundation as do ferns, are vines that provide connections within the forest or strive to reach ever higher to upper levels of the forest canopy, or the trees themselves.

Some traditional hula practices have been altered to reflect human-induced changes in the environment. For hula people ʻōhiʻa is a sacred tree that can be associated with Pele and Hiʻiaka, and is an important kinolau. But, because of ROD (Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death), ʻōhiʻa is under kapu and is currently not used in hula. “The environment takes precedence over our desire to use it as a hula plant. We have to reflect what is going on in the environment and mālama it, so we’re hoping it does come back to health… It was such an important kuahu plant. I miss it terribly. Itʻs like someone is sick in your family.” Trina said.

Melanie Wilson, Hawaiʻi-CC Dean for Liberal Arts and Public Services, has danced with Kūkūʻena for two years, and spoke about how kuahu practice helps her strengthen her personal connection to the plants. “I slowly learned all the different myths, legends, and stories that go behind the different plants, and that they are embodiments of certain beings.” Trina said kuahu practice was transformational, connecting her intimately to the environment. “You get to know the plants … They really are relatives; they are live energy.” Trina said.

In addition to kuahu, the dancers carry elements of nature on their bodies in the lei and costumes they wear when they dance. The cohort spoke fondly of a journey to Kaʻū. Inspired by their experience dancing a hula honoring winds of Kaʻū, as well as the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea, they dyed their ʻaʻahu in the volcanic ash, both ancient and new, of that powerful Kaʻū environment. Hula costumes are also often dyed naturally with plants, and commonly decorated with stamps made from plants, such as a tī leaf and ʻulu.

Dancers also go out in nature to harvest materials for implements. For example, Kūkuʻena harvested coconuts for pūniu (knee drums) and bamboo for pūʻili, and did so with proper protocol, strengthening their commitment to certain groves and special places. For their implements called kālāʻau, they harvested strawberry guava, an invasive species, an act that also functions as a conservation measure. Similarly to the kuahu and ʻaʻahu, the practice of gathering materials for the implements is done thoughtfully, with the intention of stewardship.

Many dancers spoke about how hula makes them feel more connected to the earth. “For the first time, I don't feel separate from the earth. I’m not living on the planet, I am part of the planet. I never felt that before,” Melanie said. For hundreds of years, hula has helped people connect to their environment. Dances and stories have been passed on for generations, and still have profound impacts on people. Karla spoke about why she dances. “[These are] the stories of our ancestors coming forward and staying alive. We make sure that is what we perpetuate when we perform. It's about sharing the meles and keeping it alive within ourselves, and for our communities and families.”

Hula helps people connect with themselves, nature, ancestors, and Hawaiian culture. Learning more about this traditional, sustainable practice, and how it is tied to the environment, can help us strengthen our personal connection to the environment and understand the importance of mālama ʻāina.

Hawaiʻi Community College has had a robust Hawaiʻi Life Styles Program for many years, which includes a Hula Track. Program information can be found at:

And visit Unukupukupu on Facebook

More Hawaiian cultural and academic resource links may be found at:

Hawaiian hula dance Online publication "Elements of Dance"

And 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 Polynesian hula kahiko proper 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). Initially, kahiko hula instruments were bamboo sticks, volcanic stones, gourd, coconut and fish skin drums. Traditionally, the hula is sung to the accompaniment of singing, but the text of the song can change, and it can tell about the events of ancient times, as well as about the incidents of our time.

In the West, hula is considered a dance of women, but it has long been performed by men, whose traditional attire was loincloths, complemented by bracelets and necklaces. A distinctive feature of the male version was more abrupt movements, demonstrating the strength and courage of the dancer. It is interesting that so far the dance teachers are men.

There is no consensus on how to dance hula: there are a number of movements that can be performed in any combination, depending on what the song is about. Knowing the meaning of the text, the dancer creates an image, choosing the necessary “building materials” from movements and gestures.

In addition to being beautiful, graceful and exotic, hula also has a beneficial effect on the body, as it promotes relaxation, helps to find spiritual harmony, restores balance and simply allows you to enjoy life at any age - and, by the way, the Hawaiians themselves most revere the elderly dancers who managed to keep a young heart.

How to Dance the Hawaiian Hula Dance: 6 Steps0003


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The hula dance, invented by the Polynesians in the Hawaiian Islands, is a unique movement that is danced to a chant or tune [1] X The source of information . At the very beginning, chants and voices were used as instruments, and dance was like the lyrics of a song. Nowadays, hula is danced to the guitar or ukulele. This article talks about the basic hula dance.


  1. 1

    Kāholo: Place your hands on your hips or at your sides. Bend your knees a little. Take two steps to the right. Then two steps to the left.

  2. 2

    Kao: Rock your hips from side to side.

  3. 3

    `Ami: Make circles with your body, as if you are spinning a hoop, but do not shake your shoulders.

  4. 4

    Remember that the truth of the dance lies in the hands of , as they tell stories.

  5. 5

    Move your hips and legs to the rhythm of the music. Hula can range from slow dance to fast rhythms of "live" songs.

  6. 6

    Watch an example of dancing on in this video . Study the fluidity of her movements as she dances.



  • In some dances there are also foot movements. To do this, lift your heel slightly off the ground in a quick, gentle motion.
  • Be smiling and look like you are asking someone to dance.
  • Do not look directly at the audience. Your eyes should follow your fingertips and draw your viewers into the story your hands are telling.
  • If you are a fan of Disney cartoons, then watch the cartoon Lilo and Stitch. Lilo (a girl) teaches Stitch (a creature from another planet) how to dance the hula and play the ukulele. In the last song/credits, they dance the hula together at the Merry Monarch festival.
  • Merry Monarch is a real hula dance competition held on the Big Island (an island in Hawaii) throughout the week.


What will you need

  • Bare feet (optional, but recommended for the full experience)
  • Mat (optional)
  • Skirt (optional)
  • Ipu (gourd bottle used to create rhythm) (optional)

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How to Dance the Hawaiian Hula Dance - Wiki How English

The hula dance, invented by the Polynesians in the Hawaiian Islands, is a unique movement that is danced to a chant or tune[1] X The source of information .

Learn more