Marlette_Hula.jpgIt’s a tongue twister, to be sure—but that’s probably the most complicated thing you’ll encounter with Hapa Haole Hula. It’s rhythmic and relaxed, with minor shades of difficulty, depending on your skill as a dancer—but most importantly, it tells a story, as instructor Marlette Alano Besa will attest.

“Hapa Haole Hula is a modern hula dance, danced to a song that is in English [rather than native Hawaiian],” Marlette explains. “The dance tells a story using the body. There are basic movements for the legs and the feet; the arms vary depending on the lyrics of the song.”

At the recent Beauty and the Beach event hosted by Women’s Health, dance guru Marlette spearheaded a packed class for Hapa Haole Hula (pronounced ha-pa how-leh hoo-la) on the shores of beautiful Boracay.

Marlette finds that the story-telling aspect of the dance is what makes it so appealing. While moves differ according to the choreographer, the narrative spirit of this type of hula is always cathartic. “It’s one way of expressing yourself because you get to interpret the song.”

Then, there’s the promise of a chilled-out workout. As opposed to dance styles like hiphop or Indian Bollywood, which thrive on multilevel movements in their choreography, Hapa Haole Hula requires that the dancer stay “grounded,” keeping the movement close to the floor in a low, even sweep. This means you work up a good sweat without over-exerting yourself—and who doesn’t want that?

New to this dance but eager to try it out? We asked Marlette for 5 reasons why you should. Click on!

Marlette Alano Besa teaches Hapa Haole Hula and many other dance styles on a private basis. She also teaches yoga. Contact her via email at or via mobile at 09175206160. You can also visit her website,

(Photos by Marco Manzoni and Ingrid Villafuerte)

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