Music for Class: Poetry in Motion

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

Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Jerome Capasso, courtesy of Man in Motion

Finding a male dance instructor who isn't booked solid can be a challenge, which is why a New York City dance educator was inspired to start a network of male dance professionals in 2012. Since then, he's tripled his roster of teachers and is actively hiring.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Courtesy of Shawl-Anderson Dance Center

For seven decades, Frank Shawl's bright and kind spirit touched thousands of dancers in the studio and in the audience.

After dancing professionally in New York City and with the May O'Donnell Dance Company, Shawl moved with Victor Anderson to the San Francisco Bay Area and founded Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in 1958. It is the longest running arts organization in Berkeley.

The two ran their own company for 15 years and Shawl-Anderson Dance Center became a home for dance for students and artists alike. It currently runs 120 classes and workshops every week for children and adults, plus artist residencies, rehearsal space and intimate performances. (If you have never visited, the Center is actually a large house converted into four studio spaces.)

Shawl taught modern classes at the studio until 1990, performed into his late 70s and took classes at the Center into his mid 80s.

As I simultaneously mourn and honor Frank—my dear friend, fellow dancer, mentor and boss—I reflect on a few lessons that I learned from him. These five ideas relate to our various roles in dance as students, performers, teachers and administrators.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Getty Images

Halloween is just a few weeks away, which means it's officially time to start prepping your fabulously spooky costumes! Skip the classic witch, unicorn and superhero outfits, and trade them in for some ghosts of dance legends past. Wear your costumes to class, and use them as a way to teach a dance history lesson, or ask your students to dress up as their favorite dancer from history, and perform a few eight counts of their most famous repertoire during class. Your students will absolutely love it, and you'll be able to get in some real educating despite the distraction of the holiday!

Check out some ideas we had for who might be a good fit. We can't wait to see who you all dress up as!

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Photo by Sedge Leblang, courtesy of Dance Magazine Archives

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At 8, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle at with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

You've got the teaching talent, the years of experience, the space and the passion—now all you need are some students!

Here are six ideas for getting the word out about your fabulous, up-and-coming program! We simply can't wait to see all the talent you produce with it!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Todd Rosenberg, courtesy of HSDC

This fall Hubbard Street Dance Chicago initiates an innovative choreographic-study project to pair local Chicago teens with company member Rena Butler, who in 2018 was named the Hubbard Street Choreographic Fellow. The Dance Lab Choreographic Fellowship is the vision of Kathryn Humphreys, director of HSDC's education, youth and community programs. "I am really excited to see young people realize possibilities, and realize what they are capable of," she says. "I think that high school is such an interesting, transformative time. They are right on the edge of figuring themselves out."

Keep reading... Show less
Getty Images

Q: What policies do you put in place to encourage parents of competition dancers to pay their bills in a timely manner?

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo courtesy of Kim Black

For some children, the first day of dance is a magic time filled with make-believe, music, smiles and movement. For others, all the excitement can be a bit intimidating, resulting in tears and hesitation. This is perfectly natural, and after 32 years of experience, I've got a pretty good system for getting those timid tiny dancers to open up. It usually takes a few classes before some students are completely comfortable. But before you know it, those hesitant students will begin enjoying the magic of creative movement and dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun
Photo via @igor.pastor on Instagram

Listen up, dance teachers! October 7 is National Frappe Day (the drink), but as dance enthusiasts, we obviously like to celebrate a little differently. We've compiled four fun frappé combinations on Instagram for your perusal!

You're welcome! Now, you can thank us by sharing some of your own frappé favs on social media with the hashtag #nationalfrappeday.

We can't wait to see what you come up with!

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
Original photos: Getty Images

We've been dying to hear more about "On Pointe," a docuseries following students at the School of American Ballet, since we first got wind of the project this spring. Now—finally!—we know where this can't-miss show is going to live: It was just announced that Disney+, the new streaming service set to launch November 12, has ordered the series.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Tony Nguyen, courtesy of Jill Randall

Recently I got to reflect on my 22-year-old self and the first modern technique classes I subbed for at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, California. (Thank you to Dana Lawton for giving me the chance and opportunity to dive in.)

Today I wanted to share 10 ideas to consider as you embark upon subbing and teaching modern technique classes for the first time. These ideas can be helpful with adult classes and youth classes alike.

As I like to say, "Teaching takes teaching." I mean, teaching takes practice, trial and error and more practice. I myself am in my 23rd year of teaching now and am still learning and growing each and every class.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox