To Hawaiian's a hālau is a school, academy, or group. It's root is from the Hawaiian word meaning "a branch from which many leaves grow." Today's modern term for hālau usually describes a hula school (hālau hula) or hula dance studio.
The instructor of a hālau is called the kumu hula, where the word kumu means source of knowledge, or teacher. When joining a Halau you are one of the the 'olapa (dancers) or haumana (students). The Halau starting with the kumu (teacher), alaka'i (leader), kokua (helpers), show you the spirit of Aloha as they share with you the traditional dance of the Hawaiian Islands.
There are diferent types of hula schools. Some focus primarily on ancient styles of hula, others on modern styles, and some study both. When slelcting a hula school it is important to know what type of training they provide. Some hālau continue to preserve very strict kapu, sacred protocols, while others are noa, or free of kapu. The styles of hula taught in different studios can also vary greatly.