It’s fun to learn Polynesian dances. One of the most popular kinds of these dances is the hula, which is done by moving the hips in circular patterns and gliding the hands in graceful, smooth movements. Polynesian dances are said to originate from belly dancing, which is danced by women in Arab countries. In time the dance moves performed by Arab women were transformed by Hawaiians into smooth, slithering body shifts called the hula. According to folktale, the hula was danced by a goddess revered by the Hawaiians in ancient times. It was usually performed in ceremonies and tribal rites and later on became a staple act for more modern celebrations and performances.
One aspect of the hula dance that never fails to catch attention is the grass skirt. It used to be that Hawaiian natives created their grass skirts from a certain kind of tall grass, which is abundant in many offshore parts of Hawaii. Now hula skirts are made of a synthetic stuff called raffia. This material is actually a kind of ribbon used in various crafted articles such as bags, belts, baskets and ornaments. Raffia is available in many different colors and can be bought from suppliers of craft and textile materials.
If you are a hula dance enthusiast, you can devise your own grass skirt by following this procedure:
- Take note of the materials needed for your grass skirt project: rolls of raffia ribbons in any color (preferably green, red, orange or pink) and scissors.
- Take the waistband measurement, giving an allowance of twelve inches (one foot) to the measurement.
- Measure the length of your grass skirt by holding one strand of raffia from your waist down to the ankles. This is the standard length of grass skirts. However you may want it in mid length or just on the knee. In this case adjust the raffia strand according to your wish.
- Cut each strand of raffia according to your desired length. Lay them carefully on the table so you can readily take one piece at a time as you assemble the skirt.
- Attach the raffia ribbons one by one on the waistband, starting from the center moving outward to both ends. Do this by looping one end of the ribbon over the band then tying it around securely. Repeat the procedure until such time that the waistband is almost fully covered. Stop looping when only six inches on both ends of the waistband remains unfilled. The remaining six inches will be used for tying the grass skirt around.
- Hang the grass skirt and inspect if there are gaps between the raffia strands. Trim the edges. Next, try the skirt on and see if it fits well. In case there are visible gaps (except for the six inches waistband allowance) fill them up by looping more ribbons to the waistband.
You don’t need to enroll in a dance studio to learn how to dance the hula. Knowing the basic steps is enough as long as you can move with poise. Wearing a grass skirt while dancing can make you appear like a professional hula dancer because the skirt itself gives an illusion of grace and sensuality as you move along with your favorite hula music.