“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
--- Douglas Adams

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Why I dance hula.

A lot of people wonder, and most people ask why I hula dance. I have no connection to Hawaii. I've only been there once. I don't believe I was Hawaiian in a former life. I'm not trying to become Hawaiian . . . . I'm just a white girl of German, Swedish and French Canadian ancestry from shores of Southern California.

I tell them the simple story that in 2002 I needed to have knee surgery. The doctor told me to do something that would make my legs stronger before the surgery. I started taking hula lessons at the Rhythm and Motion in San Francisco. I did this every week until my surgery and when I was recovered, I decided I still wanted to dance so I joined Na Lei Hulu. And that was that.

I admit that all of the above is true. I did have a knee surgery. I was advised to take up an activity to strengthen my legs. I did take hula classes at Rhythm and Motion and I'm now a student at Na Lei Hulu.

There is more to it, however.

After some searching online I found the Rhythm and Motion center. There were two classes I thought would strengthen my legs, that also fit into my schedule; Tai Chi and Hula. I chose hula.

The first day I went to class was a Sunday. I was in a grumpy mood because at breakfast that morning a few of the people we were dining with thought it was stupid and told me so. Hubby made me go. When I walked into the studio I was super intimidated and had butterflies like nobody's business, but I pushed through it, and I loved it. I had a great time. When he picked me up he said my whole countenance had changed. He looked at me and told me that I had to go again.

After recovering from my knee surgery I decided I wanted a more formal hula education. What I had at Rhythm and Motion was a great exercise class, but wasn't what I needed. Through the power of the internet and a few serendipitous clicks on the mouse I found Na Lei Hulu and discovered that new classes would be starting soon. I signed up.

Again I was terrified. I made myself go the first few months. I really enjoyed it, but I didn't know anybody and just about everyone outside of class that I did know thought I was weird for learning how to Hula dance. I've always sucked at making new friends. I get all awkward, stutter and don't know what to say next. I used Hula class as a tool to make myself less afraid of the opinions of others, and more willing to try new things that I've always wanted to do. Through Hula I've gained so much more than conquering my fear to try things on my own, without permission. I've learned about a beautiful culture. I've learned how to dance. I have learned to (almost) have a conversation with someone in another language. I've learned confidence. I've made new friends. I freely admit that I am not the best dancer in the class. It takes me a bit longer than everyone else to get the hang of new dances, and once I do get it, it's still not perfect. It doesn't matter, though. I go to class for other reasons, reasons that may not be the same as everyone else in class. I go to class and try my best because hula has brought out the best in me.

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