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Bellevue says 'Aloha' to new hula dance classes

Leila Fernandez, a professional dancer and choreographer, will offer hula dance classes at Dance Academy of Bellevue starting next month.   - Photo courtesy of Seattle Hula Productions
Leila Fernandez, a professional dancer and choreographer, will offer hula dance classes at Dance Academy of Bellevue starting next month.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Seattle Hula Productions

While the cold and rain keeps Bellevue residents covered and bundled up in February, they'll be able to learn a warm and tropical tradition next month: hula dancing.

Children and adults alike are able to take part in the classes, which will be offered at Dance Academy of Bellevue.

Instructor Leila Fernandez, a professional dancer and choreographer who recently moved to Mercer Island from Oahu, said she noticed there was a shortage of hula and Tahitian dance classes offered around the Eastside, so instead of teaching other dance forms like jazz or tap, she thought she'd bring a bit of her old home to her new home.

All classes will teach the basics, so no experience is necessary. Hula is a dance that accompanies a chant or song, so each movement has a corresponding meaning to a song lyric. In these beginning classes, Fernandez will teach no more than a paragraph's-worth of choreography.

Plus, it's a great core workout, especially the staccato hip movements of Tahitian dance.

"It teaches you poise and it teaches you harmony, too," Fernandez said. "In Tahitian dance, you're a group, you all have to dance exactly the same. So you become a really tight group, like hula sisters."

The close bond is especially relevant for the many people of Bellevue who weren't born in this area, or even this country, Fernandez said. Hula, for many people, is often "that extra family that you might need."

Class information:

- Participants should wear clothing they can move in and bring a sarong or pa'u skirt if possible.

- Classes will be offered at Dance Academy of Bellevue, 626 120th Avenue NE, Suite B-102.

-"Like" Fernandez's Seattle Hula Productions on Facebook and receive one free class.

- Beginning Feb. 7: Child/Youth Hula, 5:15-6:15 p.m., Mondays.

- Beginning Feb. 10: Adult Hula, 6-7 p.m., Thursdays.

Price: $15 per class, 10-class card: $120, 20-class card: $200.

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