The hula is a famous Hawaiian dance. People dance it at luaus and other
festivals. Hawaiian dancing is fun. It tells a story with motions.
Hula means "dance" in Hawaiian language. It can be traced back to Polynesia and India. The hula has an interesting myth on how it was started.
Long ago Pele, the goddess of fire, told her little sister, Laka, to amuse her because she was very bored. Right away, Laka got up and moved gracefully, acting out silently events they both knew. Pele was delighted when Laka began relating victories of King Kamehameha. She showed winds circling, directed by the goddess Laama'oma'o. She described trees, flowers, waterfalls, and stars. She honored Kuula, the god of the sea, by swaying side to side to the rhythm of the ocean waves. Pele clapped. She was fascinated. The hula was born. Laka became the hula goddess. At first there were some rules.
Only religious men and women could perform the first hulas because Hawaiian dancing was sacred. These men and women devoted themselves to Laka's hula. They only saw their instructors.
The hula began to change. Many years later, common people danced the hula. Their dances were happy and gay. Everyone danced, no matter how old they were. The hula still continued to change.
Several years later, newcomers to Hawaii had new ideas for the native dance and the Modern Hula came to be called: "Haole Hula." Rattles, drums, and other instruments accompanied the dance.
One instrument used in the hula is the 'uli'uli', which is a gourd rattle. There is also a gourd drum or ipu heke. This instrument creates a rhythmic beat. Other instruments include the pahu hula, which is a hula drum, and puniu or a coconut knee drum. There are other instruments, too.
The music is written in 4/4 time with an accent on the first and third beats. The hula has a steady beat. Some songs are “I wish I were a bird,” “The Multiplication Table,” “I can hop,” and “Eight Islands.” There are many other songs also.
The movements tell a story. There is one basic hula position that is called Kahola to the right. To do this position the dancer has their right arm extended with their palms down and their left hand with their palms down held at the center of their body. They can also Kahola to the left by doing it the opposite way. Another move is the tree. Dancers do this by placing their right elbow with their arm up on top of the back of their left hand. A hula dancer cupping their hand with their palm up is showing a flower. Fingertips held together at the center of one’s body show a house. Aloha is when the dancer's arms are extended in a wide circle. To show a sea dancers put their palms down and make waves with their hands. There are many other movements also. The movements are important when hula dancers have to perform.
The hula is danced at luaus and other parties and festivals. Hula dancers have to dress in bright and colorful clothes. One outfit a hula dancer might wear is a flowered shirt and a grass skirt which is also called a hula skirt. Many people go to Hawaii to see the hula dancers.
King David Kaluka once said, "Hula is the language of the heart, and therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people." Although many people think the hula is swaying to a song with a grass skirt on and a steel guitar playing in the background, that is just a small portion of it. The hula is the literature of the Hawaiians. Ancient hula tells the story of the creation of the world and its creatures. Watching a hula is reading a book about Hawaii.
The hula is very interesting and uniqe. The hula is the best dance ever.