Wait…is that a gentle Hawaiian breeze I feel?...why yes it is… right here at Hula Halau 'Ohana Holo'oko'a at the Global Art of Dance Studio, while waiting for my first Hula class. I was warmly greeted by Lisa Chang and offered a practice skirt she has available for her students. (Whew…the tutu I brought didn’t really have the flavor of the islands I had hoped for.)

Hula Halau 'Ohana Holo'oko'a is founded by Lisa and is team-taught with her 'Olapa (assistant) Lani. This expert team dovetail their artistic talents in to a loving warm cultural experience while introducing the gentle art of the Hula dance and language.

Class begins with a brief protocol chant called “E Ho Mai” to honor the art form and the discipline of learning. The class is in an organized three-part structure. We begin simple footwork patterns accompanied by live rhythms which are played on a ipu heke (double gourd drum) by a ho'opa'a (drummer/chanter). Lisa demonstrates the patterns and body form simply and clearly and we follow. The ho'opa'a calls out the patterns to practice so learning the language to identify the calls certainly completes the Hawaiian ambiance.

The middle part of the class is devoted to a group circle where we sing to a 'ukulele and practice the vocabulary of the art form. We then return to dance and now combine our earlier practice into beautiful and magical story telling through movement. This intoxicating dance can also be done seated for those who are unable to stand or in a wheelchair, as much of the story is communicated through gentle hands and gestures from the heart. This is a perfect class for those who have never danced and for those dancers who want add a sensual essence to their style.

sorry about the blurry video!

I enjoyed the other students; they told me they often get together to practice and share a meal at each other’s homes. This truly is an inclusive and welcoming group for a newcomer.

Hula Halau 'Ohana Holo'oko'a is located at 12570 SW Farmington Rd. Beaverton. The adjacent parking appears to belong to Hula Halau 'Ohana Holo'oko'a but it actually belongs to the ballroom studio next door… so as tempting as it is, don’t park there. Not to worry though, there is easy free street parking. Also the studio has no stairs and has easy wheelchair access.

As I left, I peeked into the next level of Hula class…and I’m not sure but I think I heard the sound of tall palm trees bending in the wind…

Take class at Hula Hālau ‘Ohana Holo‘oko‘a.

Find more Portland-area dance classes on Dance Wire's Find A Class Directory.

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