Every Movement Has Meaning

by Robert W. Miller Honolulu, Hawaii

   In the American Fox Trot and other American Dances, keeping time, making fancy steps and other movements are practically all done by the feet. The Hawaiian Hula includes the feet, knees, hips, arms, wrists, fingers and -- very important -- the eyes and facial expression. This combination of graceful movements and expression makes the Hula the most pleasing and entertaining of all dances. That is why the Hula is called Beautiful.
   Smile when you dance -- be happy. Follow the motions with your eyes, as this gives expression and adds to your personality. It must be remembered that the Hula is an Interpretative Dance. the dancer is telling a story in pantomine. This is done by the motions of the hands, eyes and facial expression and is accompanied throughout by the graceful movements of the hips, knees and feet. One very important thing to remember is to keep the shoulders as still as possible, never swaying them, as any motion of the shoulders distracts from the movements of the hands, hips and feet.
   IMPORTANT: Practice all steps and movements to the rhythm of our Hawaiian Hula music. This is very necessary in obtaining the correct tempo. Shoes and sandals are never worn when dancing the Hula. the feet are always bare.
  The Hula is the world's most beautiful dance. It is worth a reasonable amount of your time, study and worth a reasonable amount of your time, study and practice and you will be amply repaid for this effort in the enjoyment you will obtain and the pleasure you will give to your friends. Practice makes perfect.


   The Hula is danced in 4/4 time, there being 4 counts in the Hula to a movement, just as there are 4 counts to a measure in music.
   When you have learned the Hula complete as portrayed in Part 2, you may repeat any movements you wish, as Hula dancers take many liberties to suit the occasion. In our lessons the object is to teach you the simple movements which, when put together, will make a complete Hula dance, but which may be added to or taken from as you care to lengthen or shorten the dance.

Exercises Teaching Steps and Movements by Counts

Exercise 1 (Foots Counts)

   The first and most important thing to learn in performing the Hula correctly is to learn the foot counts.
   In the beginning, stand in a natural position, completely relaxed, feet about 4 inches apart; now, take one step to the right approximately eight inches with the right foot, then bring left foot to the side of the right -- which is the same as starting position. Do not drag the foot, but lift it off the floor for count 2; on Count 3 take one more step to the left and bring the right foot to the side of the left on count 4. You have now taken 8 steps -- 4 to the right and 4 to the left. While this is a very simple and easy step, it is important to practice it until you can do it without too much concentration and having to think about your feet. Follow outline below:

Exercise 2 (Knees)

   A Hula dancer always keeps his or her knees bent slightly throughout all movements of the dance. Bend knees slightly, raising heels an inch or two off the floor, with weight of body on balls of the feet, never dancing flat-footed. Now repeat the foot movements described in Exercise 1, remembering to keep the knees bent at all times, as this gives you that supple, graceful posture.

Exercise 3 (Hips)

   The movement of the hips throughout the Hula accentuates the charm and grace that have made the dance so popular. The simplest and easiest way to obtain the rhythm of the hips is to sway them gently from right to left (like the pendulum of a clock). Count 1 to the right, count 2 left, count 3 right, and 4 left. Never sway in a jerky manner, but gently, to the rhythm of the music. Practice this swaying motion until it becomes easy and natural, using Hula music at all times. It is helpful to brace one's self by holding on to the bak of a chair or placing the hands on the hips. Remember to keep your knees slightly bent, as this makes swaying of the hips easy and graceful. (See Figures) Now combine Exercises 1, 2, and 3 as a continuous movement.

Exercise 4 (Arms, Hands, Wrists and Fingers)

   In the Simple Hula, the start is made by first extending the right arm and hand, palm down, fingers lightly touching each other, to the right of the body, about shoulder high, elbow slightly bent, placing the left hand on hip with all gingers pointing down.
   On count 1 dip fingers of right hand downward with wrist slightly raised, bringing fingers up as wrist is being lowered (imitating ocean waves). On count 2 repeat movement of fingers and wrist, this time with forearm and hand moved halfway to chest. On count 3 again repeat fingers and wrist movement, with forearm and hands at cent of chest not quite touching the body. On count 4 drop the right hand on hip. You are now ready to reverse this movement of arm, hands,wrist and fingers, which is, left arm and hand extended to the left, working around in three counts to the chest, dropping the left hand to the hip on count 4. You have now completed four counts with the right arm and four counts with the left arm. Practice this exercise until it becomes easy and natural. Now combine Exercises 1,2, 3 and 4 as a continuous movement.
   The foregoing exercises include the important fundamentals used throughout the Simple Hula.

The Spiritual Meaning of the Hula by Derek Lamar

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