Slice of Life: Learning The Art of Hula

 Hello everyone! It’s been forever since I’ve written a “Slice of Life” post, but I’m finally back to share another experience of mine. Hopefully, I’ll get back to writing more lifestyle/personal experience posts on a regular basis.

Since my childhood, I’ve always enjoyed dancing. As I got older and expressed more interest in learning about other cultures around the world I became fascinated with cultural dances. I particularly was intrigued by the art of Hula which is one of many Polynesian dance forms. I admired the culture, beautiful costumes, graceful dancing style, and intricate footwork.

(One of my favorite routines, that I’d love to learn)

Hula dancing had always been on my “bucket list” of things to learn, but classes weren’t always accessible being that I lived in Michigan. And even when I did find classes I was willing to take they were out of state. After doing further research, I found The Polynesian Dancers of Michigan located in the Metro Detroit area. The halau’s (school) mission is to spread the spirit of aloha and share the passion for hula and Polynesian dance with all who are interested.  The classes are taught by”Auntie Fran” (as the students all know her), who has been teaching classes for over 40 years.

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Practice makes perfect!

Auntie Fran teaches a variety of classes, six days a week, for people of all ages. The classes range from family, children, and adult beginner and advanced classes. While the classes most focus on Hawaiian dances  \her Polynesian Fantasy Dancers (a professional troop) specializes in the art of Hawaiian, New Zealand, Tahitian and Samoan dances. They perform at weddings, anniversary parties and corporate gatherings.

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Getting ready for the big show!

I took three beginner classes last year from Spring to Fall and overall I had wonderful experience. I was very nervous at the beginning, but once I got the hang of things and warmed up to the other women in the class I became more confident. My “hula sisters” and Auntie Fran were very welcoming and we always helped each other out whenever we didn’t understand something.

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Dancing time! (Photo credit: Jerry Stollman)

Throughout this experience, I gained a greater respect for Hula dancing. It is much harder than it looks and some of the moves took weeks to master. There is constant practice involved and outside of class I often found myself practicing the routines because of the difficult footwork and hand movements. I learned a total of three songs and found myself discovering some native Hawaiian music artists that were previously unknown to me. My most favorite song I learned was Sway it Hula Girl by Loyal Garner (see video below).

In June, we had the big recital which was lot of fun. I usually get stage fright when performing in front of a crowd, but I think this time around I handled myself better than I have before. We had a great time showing off the dances we had practiced for hours and got to wear colorful costumes.

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Ready to dance!

Hula dancing is a wonderful experience and I highly recommend it to whoever loves dancing and learning about different cultures. It helped me to exercise more and it made me feel happy. Taking these classes has also inspired me to seek out more Native Hawaiian narratives in literature as well as to expand my knowledge of Polynesian culture.

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Recital (Photo credit: Jerry Stollman)

To learn more about the classes click here  or to see my article about the school featured in my local newspaper click here.

Have you ever learned Hula dancing, taken dance classes, or are a dancer yourself? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

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