Basic Dance Steps and Hand Motions
Hula, a form of dancing native to Hawaii, provides entertainment but has its roots in ancient ritual. The purpose of Hula dancing is to convey meaning through movement. It intertwines the performers with the spirit of the universe by unifying their existence with nature. Even if you fail to experience a meditative quality while performing the moves, you can still learn a basic foundation to enjoy this art form.
This article will teach you how to Hula by addressing three basic dance steps. The instructions will include two basic hand movements and directions for combining the hand movements with basic steps. Hula is a complex art form, and there are many hand motions used to signify aspects of nature. One article simply cannot cover the complexity and beauty of this ancient tradition. If you master the following steps and hand motions, you will have a basic foundation from which to build.
- Begin standing upright with your feet together, toes pointing forward, and knees slightly bent.
- Move your right foot to the right a few inches (essentially, take a step sideways).
- Bring your left foot over to meet your right foot.
- Repeat Steps 2 and 3.
- Now, move your left foot to the left.
- Step with your right foot and place it next to your left foot.
- Repeat Steps 5 and 6.
- Repeat both Steps 2 and 3 twice.
- Repeat both Steps 5 and 6 twice.
- Repeat Step 8.
- Repeat Step 9.
- Steps 10 and 11 can be repeated through the entire length of one song.
Ka’o Step (Sway Step):
- Begin just as you did for the Kaholo step. Stand upright with your feet touching and toes pointing forward. Remember to bend your knees slightly.
- Step your right foot to the right. Your legs will be shoulder width apart.
- Bring your left foot up and in, pulling your heel off the ground with your toes pointing slightly left. The toes of your left foot will be at a 45-degree angle to the toes of your right foot. The heel of your left foot will be touching your right ankle.
- Step to the left with your toes pointing forward. Your legs will be shoulder width apart. Pull your right foot up and in, bringing your right heel off the ground. The toes of your right foot will be at a 45-degree angle to the toes of your left foot. The heel of your right foot will be touching your left ankle.
Ami Step (Including hand motions):
- Begin with your feet together, toes pointing forward, and knees slightly bent.
- Place your arms overhead almost in a touchdown motion. Your arms will form a letter “U.” Your palms will be facing each other, and your elbows will be slightly bent rather than locked out.
- Count 1 and rotate or roll your waist and hips clockwise. Your hands will be in the initial position described in Step 2. Your feet should be touching the ground and will stay there for the remainder of this step.
- Count 2 and move your waist and hips again in a clockwise circle. Bring your arms down so that your palms are at shoulder height.
- Count 3 and move your waist and hips clockwise again. Bring your arms down with your elbows pointing backward. Your hands will be at waist level and your palms will face down.
- Count 4 and move your waist and hips clockwise again. Move your hands down so that they are at your sides, still with your palms facing down. Keep your elbows slightly bent.
Basic Hand Motions
- Place your arms out to your sides at shoulder height with your palms facing down. Bend your left arm in halfway so that your fingertips are now directly in front of your breastbone. Your left hand will be just in front of your body but not touching. The tips of your left fingers will be pointing toward the right.
- Now reverse your arms. Place your left arm straight out to the side at shoulder height with your palm facing down. Bend your right arm in so that your fingertips are again at your breastbone. The tips of your right fingers will be pointing towards the left.
Coconut Tree Motion (Right Side):
- Begin with your left and right arms at shoulder height stretched out in front of you.
- Bend your left elbow and bring your hand toward your body until your lower arm is perpendicular to your upper arm. The fingertips of your left arm will be touching the elbow of your right arm. When viewed from the front, your arms will be forming a letter “P.”
- Now bend your right elbow and raise your right lower arm until your fingers are pointing upward and your right and left arms form an “L.” Your right palm should be facing the left.
- Keep your right arm straight but sway your hand toward the left until you are just short of a 45-degree angle.
- Slowly sway your right arm back to the initial upright position.
The Coconut Tree Motion can also be performed on the left side. Simply reverse the initial position and start with your right fingers touching your left elbow and your left lower arm pointing upward. Sway your left arm to the right then back to the initial position.
The following instructions will show you how to combine a basic step with the arm movements.
Combining Kaholo Step with Hula Motion:
- Begin Step 1 of the Kaholo Step directions.
- Perform Step 2 of the Kaholo Step directions while performing Step 1 of the Hula Motion directions.
- Perform Steps 3 and 4 of the Kaholo Step directions while still maintaining your arms in Step 1 of the Hula Motion directions.
- Begin Step 5 of the Kaholo Step directions at the same time you begin Step 2 of the Hula Motion directions.
- Perform Steps 6 and 7 while maintaining your arms in Step 2 of the Hula Motion directions.
- Begin Step 8 of the Kaholo Step directions while performing Step 1 of the Hula Motion.
- Begin Step 9 of the Kaholo Step directions while performing Step 2 of the Hula Motion.
- Repeat Step 6 of this set of directions.
- Repeat Step 7 of this set of directions.
- Steps 8 and 9 of this set of directions can be performed throughout the entire length of one song.
Combining the Ka’o Step and Coconut Tree Motion:
- Begin in Step 1 of the Ka’o Step with your arms in Step 1 of the Coconut Tree motion.
- Perform Step 2 of the Ka’o Step with your arms still in Step 1 of the Coconut Tree motion.
- Perform Step 3 of the Ka’o Step with your performing Step 2 of the Coconut Tree motion.
- Perform Step 4 of the Ka’o Step with your hands returning to their initial position, Step 1 of the Coconut Tree motion.
- You can repeat Steps 1 through 4 above as many times as you like to the song of your choice.
I hope you continue to learn how to Hula. Who knows, your Hula dancing moves could really come in handy at your next luau or party. Even if you never visit Hawaii, you can enjoy Hula for its rich cultural meaning and the unique form of expression and movement that it is.