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This blog follows Dance Wire’s Founder/Director Emily Running in her adventures taking new dance classes all over Portland.
Since Hula Halau ‘Ohana Holo’oko’a shares a space with MVP Elite, upon arriving I was surrounded by exuberant young dancers doing homework, snacking and practicing their moves in the lobby. But the kind people at the front desk pointed me in the right direction. I attended the trial for the Beginning Adult Hula class – they also offer Keiki Hula (youth), Kupuna Hula (55+), and Tahitian so check the schedule for the upcoming Trial class before attending for the first time. A young woman named Jenny checked me in with paperwork and gave me a purple skirt to borrow, which is part of their required uniform in class.
The hula studio itself was swarming with cheerful women in purple skirts, eager to learn my name and welcome me to the family. Class participants were Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian, ranged in age from probably 25-65, and of every body type.
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The class began with a warm-up of basic hula moves and Jenny and Chaz, two regulars of the class, were attentive to me and the two other newbies as we tried to catch on. After a brief warm-up we gathered in a circle and sang two traditional Hawaiian songs. While many of the ladies knew the songs by heart, some of the others pulled out their binders which they were happy to share so I could see the unfamiliar and vowel-happy Hawaiian words as I followed along. After singing we worked with some of the dances the class had been working on for performances. The class ended holding hands in a circle and more singing.
Hula tells a story through the dance and hand motions. I was mesmerized by the grace of the movements and inspired by the clear sense of community amongst the women in class. More than just learning to dance hula, at Hula Hālau ‘Ohana Holo’oko’a you will also learn about Hawaiian culture, language, history, chants, songs and stories.
Find more Portland-area dance classes on Dance Wire’s Find A Class Directory.