Hula Dance

Historic Information

Hula Dance originated in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there. It is an ancient historical dance performed for the volcano goddess, Pele. This was the Hawaiian's way of keeping a record of history.

Hula costumes are not actually grass skirts as they are commonly referred to. When dancers perform this dance, the women would wear wrapped skirts of cloth and men wore loincloths. They also wore leis, necklaces, and bracelets but took the leis off when they were finished and put them on the alter for Laka, who was the keeper of the dance.

The movement used in this performance is slow bodily gestures that consists of rhythmic movements of the hips and hand gestures that tell a story. The Hula is performed spontaneously at family feasts and is not a big deal but other times when the hula would be performed for the chiefs, it was an awaited event and quite a big deal. Hula performances were considered as a type of flattery to a chief.

Music used for the Hula was originally a poetic chant called Mele, performed by the men of a tribe. Insturments such as gourds, rattles, sharkskin drums, and castanets were played as they chanted. By the mid 20th century Hollywood had taken over hula and added many commercialized sounds such as guitar and ukulele. The music for the hula has a slow and wavy beat but does have a short, catchy tune.

Every day, the hula is still performed by Hawaiians in resorts located in Hawaii. It's also performed at places such as the Merry Monarch Festival and the King Kamehameha Traditional Hula Event and Chant Competition. Today, the hula is mainly performed as a type of entertainment for tourists but there are still some modern schools and competitions for the ancient dance. You'll mainly see the hula performed at Hawaiian luaus or blessings and celebrations. The role of the hula in the modern culture is mainly entertainment and is mostly in the modern cultures of Hawaii.