The Aloha of Hula
Hula Dancing has taken a modern twist to its once tried and true traditions. As Hawaii has become a tourist’s paradise, the dance has also been touched by western cultures.
The art of Hula Dancing is known at feasts, celebrations and feats that often include other entertaining performances. It is a joyful expression on the island that is a delight for anyone who has the opportunity to experience a show. Interestingly, the lighthearted dance is also seeped in culture and tradition.
Once Upon a Hula Time
Modern day Hula was adapted from the ancestral roots of many types of ancestral hula such as Hula Kahiko. It was spiritually entrenched in religion and tribute to both the Chiefs and Gods of the time. An intricate descent from Asian customs and those that spurred from Islanders of the Pacific came an honorary way to uphold their beliefs. The essence of Nature surrounded the philosophies and customs of Islanders. The dances honored their ways, their people and religion. The severity of a misstep was said to dishonor the entire ceremony with resulting consequences thereafter.
To partake in the Hula Kahiko was not only a dance of the people, it was a serious undertaking requiring rules to be followed. Prayers of protection and rituals were set in place to help protect the dancers from any flaws in their dance. Each movement was symbolic speaking a language of ancient harmony through steps and eloquence the dancer’s arms and hands. Sound beats and the natural elements of their dance offers the epitome of the history that Hula tells.
Hula Traditional Dress
You will see Hula Dancers in the coconut top and grass skirts with leis passed on to visitors as a friendly gesture. This was not the original costume design for Hula as it originated prior to modern civilization. It was ordinary for women to be topless as this did not denote shame as it does today. Females wore a skirt not typically grass as is popular today while the men wore loincloths during the ritual. The ensemble they wore consisted of adornments made from materials, bracelets, anklets and leis. Much of their adornments were made from natural elements including shells, leaves and flowers. In contrast to the dancers we see today, the pieces worn were considered sacred after ceremonies or rituals. Not meant to be worn again, dancers sacrificed the pieces to their Gods and Goddesses.
Immense training and dedication were required of hula Dancers as they recounted the legends and tales of their people. Blessings and luck were brought to them as a result from the fluent flow of the ceremonies. Ancient cultures were superstitious and held true to their beliefs. It is with respect for an ancient civilization that we honor Hula dancing with the rightful separation of tradition versus the entertainment we know today. After all, it’s never a bad idea to learn something new and expand your horizons.