There are four basic steps in hula. If you know these, you’re pretty much ready to go. All other steps build on these.
You should keep your knees bent and your upper body stationary, no bobbing up/down as you dance. Your arms and hands should be the only parts of your upper body moving because the story is in the hands.
kaholo: this is similar to a “grapevine” step minus the vine! You take two steps to the right, then two steps to the left, 4 beats in each direction. The feet remain in a straight line. You take normal steps when doing this move, but when you bring one foot to the side of the other, your feet should be no farther apart than the width of a can of Spam!
hela: this move is done in place, pointing your right foot forward at a 45-degree angle as you sway to the left, then the left foot forward at a 45-degree angle as you sway to the right. This is the standard hela, and the sway is noticeable but gentle. There’s also a moving hela, with a wider swaying motion, and the feet are farther apart when they are pointed forward. Whether standard or moving, you always return to your original starting point.
ʽuwehe (ʽuehe): this is probably the hardest step. You step in place with your right foot, then raise both heels and “pop” your knees out to either side. Then step in place with the left foot, raise both heels, and pop your knees to the side. (In the ancient version of the ʽuwehe, the knees pop forward rather than to the sides.) The ʽuwehe knee movement should be strong enough to noticeably move your skirt.
ʽami: this is a circular hip motion to either the right or the left. You make a full circle with your hips; it is not a swaying from side to side.
Other important words in hula:
imua — move forward
ihope — move backward
ʻākau — go right
hema — go left
huli — turn
i lalo — go lower
i luna — rise up
hana hou — do it again
lava — stop
The word you most want to hear from your kumu is maikaʽi — good!