Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why I love hula

This is an article I was asked to write for the hui newsletter. It feels very personal to me. Maybe I'm being overly-sensitive?

Why I love hula

I’ve travelled to Hawai`i just to attend hula workshops. I stream Kaua`i public radio while I am at work (kanikapila is my favorite program, I stay up till the wee hours of the night to watch Merrie Monarch live online. There is always a pa’u skirt in my car ready to go. That is to say, I really love hula.

Hula dancing, for me, is much like how others might find yoga. It both relaxes and challenges me. Practicing basics is possibly my favorite part of hula dancing. My form always needs improvement. I focus on the position of my feet. Are they too close, too far apart? I focus on my hands. Are my fingers graceful enough? Are my arms at the right angle? I focus on my hips. Can’t forget to gently sway my pa’u skirt, while thinking about my hands and feet. All of this requires my total concentration while I listen to the beat of the drum, and I can’t possibly think about any other stresses or worries in my life at the moment. This is some serious “me time.”

I love getting the choreography of a mele down cold. The repetition of a hula dance over and over again can be meditative. And when I really connect with the mele, I can breathe life into it with gentle nuances and meaning.

I love the ladies I dance with. When someone has true aloha in their hearts I can feel it. It can’t be faked and it’s wonderful to be in its presence.

Sometimes I’m told my dancing is “not bad for a haole.” I agree with the statement. My hula is not bad for a haole, a mainlander from Chula Vista. But any credit, if credit is due, goes to my kumus. Any compliments (nice ones, at least) are really compliments to my kumus. I’ve had the most beautiful teachers. It is their instruction that made this white girl a passable hula dancer and I am so grateful for it.

But I don’t dance to seek approval from “real” hula dancers. I dance for me. Because I love it.

*Please do not copy or quote without express written consent.

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