Who can hula? You can, at the mall

April 12, 1992|By Los Angeles Daily News

WAIKIKI, Hawaii -- Serious students of hula have a choice of 30 or so hula schools on the island of Oahu. But would-be hula girls and boys who are short on time head over to the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, where Lee Pua-Keala Mann teaches novices to express concepts like "beach boy sweet" and "little grass shack" with a mere twitch of the hip or a sweep of the arm.

The mall's Orchid Court is packed on a recent Monday morning with tourists who form nice, orderly rows, waiting for class to begin. Some are months-long visitors and hula fans who return to the mall week after week for the lessons.

The music starts -- "Oh we're going to a hukilau. . . ."

Hips start shaking. Arms start waving. It isn't always a pretty sight, but Ms. Mann is patient, and she is kind.

"Move your popo. That's it. Move your hips," she encourages. "When you do hula, you have to tell the story."

By the end of the hour, the students are moving in sync, raising their arms as if this were a tropical revival.

"We've been doing the same song for months," Ms. Mann confides later. "But if you're confident, even if you have two left feet, you feel good about yourself and that spreads around the

circle. It's like the lei of love."

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