"See real hula" was some of the best advice my mother got for her first Hawaii vacation. Following that advice was easier than I could have guessed.
The suggestion came from the Hawaii-based flight crew on her trip to the islands. They didn't have specific recommendations, but suggested that she find hula as danced by local residents rather than seeing only the more staged (and athletic) Hawaiian luau performances.
We already had a fairly full agenda planned for her week here, but before I had the chance to investigate further, she happened upon a hula demonstration on the beach outside her Waikiki hotel. She, and other passers by, stopped to watch the free performance and listen to explanations tailored for visitors with an interest in learning more about Hawaii's beloved hula.
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Last evening, I had a similar experience. En route to an appointment, I saw people gathered in chairs and standing along the Waikiki Beach Walk, watching a hula performance. It was beautiful – everyone was smiling, both performers and audience members. One young visitor was copying the dancers, moving closer and closer to joining them until her mother noticed and brought her back to the spectator area. This Sunday evening performance is part of a series that includes Hawaiian musical groups.
There are also opportunities to learn a few hula movements, with free lessons for adults and children. Many of these performances and cultural lessons are available in Waikiki because that is where most hotels are located on Oahu. If you visit one of the neighbor islands, ask about similar opportunities at your hotel or local visitor's bureau. They are designed for visitors, at convenient locations and times, and usually free of charge.
Sharing a love of hula truly is a priceless Hawaii experience.
October 25th, 2010