Most tourists are interested in watching hula shows in Hawaii. They like the dance steps and music flow of Hawaiian hula. However, many of them do not understand the meaning of hula and what it is about. Well, this article has everything you need to know about Hawaiian hula.
Let’s start with the term hula. Sorry to disappoint you if you think hula means shaking hips. It actually means dance. Hula is a Hawaiian word and it refers to Hawaiian dance style. There are three sub-styles of hula: The first one is Kahiko, which is a traditional style of dance, performed with traditional costumes. The second one is Auana, which is a flowing style of dance, performed in modern Hawaiian costumes. The third one is Hapa Haole, also known as hotel hula which is performed in coconut bras and blue-spangled faux grass skirts made of plastic.
Now, let’s tell you how hula started. Here is a little bit of history.
On Molokai, it is said that hula was brought a long time ago by a man, named Laka, from Tahiti. Some believe that he is related to god/hero Rata in the South Pacific. On Kauai, some say hula was brought by a woman whose name was Laka and others say Laka was a man. The only common thing is that hula was brought from Tahiti.
The stories are different on the Big Land. It is said that hula was invented here by a woman whose name was Hopoe. And she taught it to her goddess friend Hi’iaka who later taught it to her elder sister Pele. This is a very unusual legend of human teaching hula to god!
Every small step in hula is named something. Even a small movement in palm counts as a step. The dance is used to narrate a story which is conveyed by many little movements of the body parts. It is very difficult to know the meaning of those steps unless you have talked to an expert in hula about them.
Kahiko hula has a very long history and has been performed for many years. It is performed with chanting and playing traditional instruments such as skin and gourd drums, bamboo rattles, and sometimes castanets made of stones. Auana hula is a modern type of hula. Modern instruments such as guitars and ukuleles are used to perform Auana hula. Music and songs are designed for specific groups of tourists and visitors.
Kahiko hula tells stories about legends, ancient gods and goddesses, chiefs, and royalty. Auana Hula tells romantic stories or gossips about people and places. It also tells stories about great parties and adventure.
Many people will enjoy learning hula. If you can remember the lyrics of the chant or song, you will enjoy hula even more. If you have a chance to attend the Merrie Monarch Festival in person or just see it on television or DVD, don’t miss it. There is nothing else like it in the entire world.