Hula Moves

Hula dancing is easy to learn, good exercise, and fun to do!

Hula dancing is a beautiful and graceful form of dance. Hula combines foot movement along with meaningful hand movements that tell a story. Hula dancing is easy to learn, is good exercise, and is a fun activity for a Luau or Hawaiian theme wedding. There are many hula dances that have very simple steps which can be easily learned and have people dancing hula in one lesson. A popular easy to learn hula dance will be shared in below on this page that can have you hula dancing by the end of today!

There are several different styles of hula danced by Polynesian cultures like Hawaiian, Tahitian, Fijian, and Maori. In the Hawaiian hula dance style there are two types, hula kahiko and hula ‘auana.

Hula Kahiko

In ancient Hawaiian times there were no written books of daily life and special events however, the Hawaiians have created hula dances and chants as ways to document events going as far back as to their first inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands 0-500ad.  Hula kahiko is the traditional ancient Hawaiian style of hula which also includes chanting and percussion instruments like uli ulipuilidrums and ipu gourd drumsThe kahiko style of hula focuses on the hula practiced by ancient Hawaiians which was how they communicated with and honored the Hawaiian Gods by sharing stories about Hawaiian life, history and culture. Students are taught how to make their own instruments and their own outfits for performances. Some hula schools require their students to learn and speak Hawaiian.

Hawaiian Hula Performers in 1891

When Western missionaries arrived in the Hawaiian Islands hula was seen as indecent and immoral. In 1830 missionaries convinced Queen Ka’ahumanu to outlaw hula for the good of the Hawaiian people. Hula along with the speaking of the Hawaiian language were banned in the Hawaiian Islands. Many of the chiefs and people of Hawaii did not agree with the ban and hula and the Hawaiian language was practiced in secret.

Hula Girls were side show attractions in the 1920’s

In 1851 public hula performances became regulated and a heavy fee was paid to obtain a license for each performance. Throughout the 1860s secret hula schools continued to teach and the number of students grew. The Hawaiian King David Kalakaua openly supported hula dancing before he became King in 1836. He is credited for preserving hula kahiko and bringing back native Hawaiian dance during his reign as King having spectacular performances of hula at his coronation in 1883 and at his 49th birthday celebration in 1886.

Hula ‘Auana

Hula ‘auana is the modern style of Hawaiian hula dance which emerged after Western contact and is often associated with slack key guitar, ukulele, and upbeat Hawaiian music. The ‘auana style incorporates the traditional hand signals, steps, and percussion instruments with a more show business flare to the presentation than the kahiko style and costumes can be much more flashy. The focus with hula ‘auana is more on entertainment through hula story telling rather than communicating and honoring the Hawaiian Gods.

Hawaiian Hula Girl with Uli UliPu’ili, and Ipu Gourd Drum Hula Implements

Both styles of native Hawaiian hula dance are excellent forms of exercise.  Hula dancing is also a fun activity when having a Luau or  Hawaiian themed celebration and below are three tips on how to add hula dancing to your festivities:
1) Learn an easy hula dance and dance it at your celebration to entertain your guests!
2) Learn an easy hula dance and teach your guests how to hula dance!
3) Hire an experienced hula dancer to perform and/or teach a hula lesson at your celebration.

It is fun to learn to dance the hula at a Luau!

Hula dancing is popular all over the world, some people refer to this style of dancing as Hawaiian hula hula.  No matter what you call it or where you are in the World, you can usually find organized groups of hula dancers, known as Hula Halau, that can be hired for hula dance lessons or to perform at a celebration. To find one, google “hula halau” + your location in the world, such as “hula halau san diego”. Then contact them to find out information on how you can take lessons, join the group to perform, find out where they will be performing live, or hire them as performers or to teach hula dancing at your Hawaii theme celebration!

The hula dancers are wearing skirts made from fresh ti leaves

Now it is time to learn how to hula dance!

Hula dancing is a fun Luau activity for kids and adults. Below are easy Hawaiian hula dance steps:

‘Ami Right – rotate hips counterclockwise, one rotation for each count.

‘Ami Left – rotate hips clockwise. Bent knees make the ‘ami easier.
For video instruction of ‘Ami click here!

Hela: Point right foot forward, bring back, then point left foot forward, then bring back. For video instruction of Helai click here!

Huli: Rotate around while swaying the hips.

Kaholo: A kaholo is more of a sliding step, rather than lifting the foot as you move. It is used to step side to side, front to back, and diagonally.
For video instruction of Kaholo click here!

Ka’o: Sway hips by shifting weight to the right side and lift left heel. Then shift weight to the left side and lift right heel. For video instruction of Ka’o click here!

Lele: Step right, then left, either forward or back.

Below are easy Hawaiian hula hand movements:

For video instruction of basic Hula Hand Movements click here!

Love Hand Movement: Hands cross at chest to show embracing love.

Ocean Hand Movement: hands gently beat up and down showing the rhythm of the waves.

Rainbow Hand Movement: palms of the hands meet at the left… right hand lifts and shapes an arching rainbow.

Rising Sun Hand Movement: start at the knees, both hands part and rise above the head to shape the sun.

Singing or Story Telling Hand Movement: hand gracefully gesturing at mouth for song.

Swaying Palms Hand Movement: left arm becomes the land, right arm and fingers sway showing a waving palm.

Swirling Winds Hand Movement: left hand forward while right hand circles twice over head.

Tide roll Hand Movement: hands continually roll over each other to show the rolling sea.

These boy and girl hula dancers are wearing pa’u skirts and lava lava

Basic Hula Warm Up


This instructional video teaches an easy hula dance routine to the song Tiny Bubbles by Don Ho. You can learn this hula dance in one session!

There are a great resource of hula instructional videos on YouTube.
Below are a few links to continue your hula training:

Basic Hula Steps Tutorial
Basic Hula Hip Movements Tutorial
Basic Hula Foot Movements
How to do the Lilo and Stitch Hula
How to do the Hukilau Hula
How to do the Pearly Shells Hula
How to do the Hawaiian Wedding Song Hula
How to Hula Dance
Learn to Hula Dance
How to Hula

The hula girl is wearing a grass skirtkukui nut lei, and silk fern head lei. the hula boy is wearing a lava lava

What to Wear While Hula Dancing

Skirts allow for freedom of movement while dancing the hula and are worn by women, men, girls, and boys. For tops men and boys typically wear a tshirt when practicing and go topless when performing. Women typically wear a sports braspaghetti strap toptshirt or tank top when practicing and for performing may wear a coconut brabikini topsequined bra, or tube topFresh lei or silk lei accessories be worn on the head, neck, ankles and wrists. Hula dancers dance barefoot.

Types of skirts worn by hula dancers include:
PareuLava Lava or Sarong– a long piece of cloth wrapped around the body and tucked into the waist.
Grass Skirt– made from natural or synthetic raffia. Natural is tan in color and can be dyed green or a rainbow of colors.
Ti Leaf Skirt– fresh or synthetic ti leaves are fashioned into a skirt along the stem end of the leaf.
Pa’u Skirt– a modern hula dance skirt made with colorful Hawaiian printed fabric and an elastic waist. They are worn short like a mini skirt or long which covers the dancers legs to mid shin.

The hula girls are wearing ti leaf hula skirts and have a set of uli uli hula implements.

Hot Hula Fitness is a new modern form of hula which incorporates traditional hula movements and performs them to upbeat Polynesian and contemporary music providing a vigorous fun low impact aerobic workout! The Hot Hula fitness style of hula isolates the larger muscle groups, increasing strength and definition to the core with specific emphasis on the abs, glutes, quads and arms.

Hot Hula Fitness Basic Steps For Beginners
Hot Hula Fitness Easy Workout Tutorial
Hot Hula Fitness 13 Minute Workout
Hot Hula Fitness Dance Workout Routine
Hot Hula Fitness Warm Up
Hot Hula Fitness Workout Skirt
Hot Hula Fitness Workout DVDs

If you are having a Hawaiian themed celebration, include hula dancing! Teach your guests a few moves or hire a hula expert to come and teach you and your guests a hula lesson. Your guests will have a fun memorable experience and learn something that is very sacred in the Hawaiian culture for a true authentic Luau experience!

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