Attention, parents: Get your hula feet ready the next time you’re in Hawaii! There’s a class just for you and your toddler to embrace the essence of the Islands through song and dance. Every Wednesday at Baby aWEARness (story on store coming soon!), Hawaiian mele (song) pours out of the tiny children’s store and into quiet Manoa valley; a handful of Moms, Dads and their keiki (child/children) move to the graceful hula beat.
Share a Hawaiian tradition with one of the youngest family members.
Malia Helela is the kumu hula, or hula teacher. As a mother herself, she believes cultural appreciation plays a huge role in a child’s development. She incorporates various Hawaiian items, including cowry shells, to better translate the culture through a sensory experience. The keiki put the shells to their ears, listen to the ocean sounds magically emanating from within the shell and feel its cold touch.
To add to their auditory senses, Malia plays Hawaiian instruments such as the ukulele and ipu (a hand drum). An ukulele has a similar shape to a guitar but holds its own unique sound with every strum. An ipu takes hours to make; starting with a gourd plant, crafters do some digging and carving before polishing it into the finished product. Kumu hula create a steady beat as they pound the ipu on the floor and chant Hawaiian mele.
Hula is one of the oldest forms of dance, tracing back to when early Polynesian settlers came to the Islands. Some even believe hula began with the Hawaiian gods. Today, the dance has moved beyond Hawaii and found homes in cultures around the world. And from this little Manoa store, we see another gap starting to close between generations; hula is for everyone, no matter how tiny your feet are.
KEIKI HULA CLASSES • Wednesdays (11am) • 2752 Woodlawn Drive, Suite 5-209, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 • 808-988-0010 • Free • Free parking; Near bus stop
Photo Credit: Lori Navares