Hokulani Holt-Padilla has dedicated her life to teaching and supporting Hawaiian culture, especially its primary dance form, hula. She founded Pa ‘U O Hi’iaka, a hâlau (or hula school) on the island of Maui, in 1976 and was crucial in the planning of the World Hula Conference. Currently, Holt-Padilla is the cultural programs director at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, and her dance troupe has won numerous awards. In December, she was honored with a Ford Foundation Fellowship for Dance.

 

Holt-Padilla teaches both the traditional hula dance form, kahiko, set to chants and traditional instruments, and the contemporary or auana form, accompanied by song and Western instruments. “My real attachment is for the traditional version,” she says. “Many kumu hula (or hula teachers) view kahiko as the foundation of a dancer’s experience. A student must do that well before moving on.”

 

For most traditional classes, hula teachers act as accompanists, playing and chanting along with their students. For contemporary combinations, however, Holt-Padilla turns to recorded music. She has found a select group of artists who demonstrate the evolution of Hawaiian music, mixing the old and the new.

 

“Hula cannot exist without poetry,” she says. “We do not dance by music or drumbeats alone. We must have words. For those who understand Hawaiian, it is the poetry that leads us to the song we select.” With Holt-Padilla’s choices, even teachers far from Hawaii’s beaches can introduce hula to their students. DT

 

Artist: Keali’i Reichel

Album/Songs: E O Mai, “Ka Opihi O Kanapou” and “Pua Hinano”

“Keali’i Reichel records music specifically for hula dancers. This means that he stays within the 4/4 count, there are few instrumental interludes and the poetry is beautiful. Keali’i’s songs are also wonderful because he understands Hawaiian, so we know he’s enjoying the poetry just as much as we are.”

 

 

Artist: Ho’okena

Album/Song: Cool Elevation, “Ke ’Ala O Ka Rose”

“‘Ke ’Ala O Ka Rose’ is a classic love song about someone who is being wooed and compared to a rose. For female hula dancers, it’s always nice to have songs about flowers and sweet-smelling things, because hula expresses these words through dance. The students exhibit the rain and the blossoms and the ocean and feelings of affection with their dancing.”

 

Artist: Napua Greig Makua

Album/Song: Pihana, “Blue Lei”

“The song ‘Blue Lei’ comes from the 1920s and ’30s, an era of English language in Hawaiian music because the Hawaiian language was banned. Since the Hawaiian Renaissance of the 1970s, we can learn, speak and compose in Hawaiian once again, which is great. But we also enjoy English music as a part of our history.”

 

 

Artist: Natalie Ai Kamauu

Album/Song: ’E, “Ke Aloha”

“‘Ke Aloha’ is a classic contemporary hula song that many hula dancers know. Natalie Ai Kamauu does a beautiful rendition, musically as well as rhythmically. It really inspires students to dance well when they hear beautiful music like this.”

 

 

Artist: Cody Pueo Pata

Album/Song: He Aloha…, “Awapuhi Puakea”

“Cody Pueo Pata is a new artist, and he is also a hula teacher, so the music that he produces has all the things that teachers want. His songs are 4/4 and have beautiful melodies and poetry. ‘Awapuhi Puakea’ is about comparing someone you love to a ginger blossom.”

 

 

Holt-Padilla describes her remounting of Kahekili: Maui's Paramount Chief, a National Endowment for the Arts/American Masterpiece Dance production here.

Photo courtesy Hokulani Holt-Padilla

The Conversation
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo courtesy of Hightower

The beloved "So You Think You Can Dance" alum and former Emmy-nominated "Dancing with the Stars" pro Chelsie Hightower discovered her passion for ballroom at a young age. She showed a natural ability for the Latin style, but she mastered the necessary versatility by studying jazz, ballet and other forms of dance. "Every style of dance builds on each other," she says, "and the more music you're exposed to, the more your rhythm and coordination is built."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Burklyn Ballet, Courtesy Harlequin

Whether you're putting on a pair of pointe shoes, buckling your ballroom stilettos or lacing up your favorite high tops, the floor you're on can make or break your dancing. But with issues like sticking or slipping and a variety of frictions suitable to different dance steps and styles, it can be confusing to know which floor will work best for you.

No matter what your needs are, Harlequin Floors has your back, or rather, your feet. With 11 different marley vinyl floors available in a range of colors, Harlequin has options for every setting and dance style. We rounded up six of their most popular and versatile floors:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by The Fleet, courtesy of Lion's Jaw Festival

Growing up in New Jersey, Lisa Race trained with a memorable dance teacher: Fred Kelly, the younger brother of famous tapper Gene. "Fred would introduce our recitals," she says. "He would always cartwheel down the stairs." It wasn't until years later, when Race was pursuing her master's degree and chose to write a research paper on Kelly, that she realized there was a clear connection between her own movement style—improvisational and floor-based—and his. "In this television clip I watched, Fred jumps up to the piano, then jumps off it—he's going up and down and around," she says. "I thought, 'Oh, wow, all this time, I've thought of my dancing as my own, but that's where it started!' Moving upside-down and into the floor. There's a thread there. I rerouted it in different ways, but there's a connection."

Now, as a professor at Connecticut College, she concentrates on how to introduce her students to that love and freedom of upside-down work—and how to best prepare them for life after graduation, no matter what dance path they take.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Insure Fitness
AdobeStock, Courtesy Insure Fitness Group

As a teacher at a studio, you've more than likely developed long-lasting relationships with some of your students and parents. The idea that you could be sued by one of them might seem impossible to imagine, but Insure Fitness Group's Gianna Michalsen warns against relaxing into that mindset. "People say, 'Why do I need insurance? I've been working with these people for 10 years—we're friends,'" she says. "But no one ever takes into account how bad an injury can be. Despite how good your relationship is, people will sue you because of the toll an injury takes on their life."

You'll benefit most from an insurance policy that caters to the specifics of teaching dance at one or several studios. Here's what to look for:

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

It's summertime, which means we're all starting to feel HOT! HOT! HOT!

While a warm room is certainly better than a cold room when it comes to dancing, you don't want your students to get heat stroke at your studio. To help you survive this sweaty time of year, here are tips and tricks that will keep your classrooms comfortable for an excellent class.

Enjoy!

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Success with Just for Kix
Bill Johnson, Courtesy Just for Kix

Running a dance studio is a feat in itself. But adding a competition team into the mix brings a whole new set of challenges. Not only are you focusing on giving your dancers the best training possible, but you're navigating the fast-paced competition and convention circuit. Winning is one goal, but you also want to create an environment that's fun, educational and inspiring for young artists. We asked Cindy Clough, executive director of Just For Kix and a studio owner with over 40 years of experience, for her advice on building a healthy dance team culture:

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by World Class Vacations
David Galindo Photography

New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

Here's why Dance the World Broadway is the best way for students to experience NYC:

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

If you're not prepared, studio picture day can be a real headache. But, if done right, it can provide you with gorgeous photos that will make your students and parents happy, while simultaneously providing you with marketing content you will be able to use for years to come.

Here are five tips that will help you pull off the day without a hitch.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Via YouTube

In its 14 years of existence, YouTube has been home to a world of competition dance videos that we have all consumed with heedless pleasure. Every battement, pirouette and trendy move has been archived somewhere, and we are all very thankful.

We decided it was time DT did a deep dive through those years of footage to show you the evolution of competition dance since the early days of YouTube.

From 2005 to 2019, styles have shifted a whole lot. Check them out, and let us know over on our Facebook page what you think the biggest differences are!

Enjoy!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo courtesy of Koelliker

Sick of doing the same old stuff in technique class? Needing some across-the-floor combo inspiration? We caught up with three teachers from different areas of the country to bring you some of their favorite material for their day-to-day classes.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Thinkstock

Q: I have a very flexible spine and torso. My teachers tell me to use this flexibility during cambrés and port de bras, but when I do, I feel pain—mostly in my lower back. What should I change so I don't end up with back problems?

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox