HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many people are using online apps like Zoom to talk to another another in isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.
Kumu hula are using those online apps to teach hula from Hawaii, often reaching students around the world.
Kumu Vicky Takamine of hula halau Pua Alii Ilima has been using Zoom to teach 15 to 20 people at a time, including a class made up of students in New York City.
“What it’s doing for us is giving us an opportunity to see each other, ‘he alo he alo,’ face to face, at a time when we’re not supposed to be seeing each other,” said Takamine.
It’s also challenging kumu to come up with new ways of teaaching.
“Hula is so visual,” said Takamine. “I’ll demonstrate and I’ll perform it, and they’ll follow and they’ll mimic, so you don’t really have to articulate it. Now we’re having to articulate it as well.”
Kumu Nalani Keale normally has a class at Waikiki Community Center, which has been closed because of the pandemic. He’s now teaching from his back yard to a world wide classroom on Facebook Live. It takes a little longer than having the class physically in the room with him.
“I’m showing first with hand motions, and then the footwork, and then putting both of those together and then playing the song and then dancing the song,” said Keale.
There are other obvious drawbacks to having a virtual class.
“I can’t go up to them and physically fix their hands and tilt their head and push their back for their posture,” said Keale.
And Zoom isn’t perfect at keeping everyone together -- at least on screen.
“When I’m watching them, that they’re all at different times. We’re not synchronized whatsoever,” said Takamine.
Takamine also is coming up with new terms, like when she tells her students to “Pin the Kumu.” That’s when she’ll be the dominant face on everyone’s screen while she’s teaching.
Despite the challenges, those who teach hula -- and those who are learning it -- say this is the next best thing.
“A lot of students are missing hula. I’m missing hula. So this is a great way to get some aloha in their house, yeah? And in their hearts,” said Keale.
“We’ll see what it looks like when we all get together again," said Takamine. "Soon, I hope.”