Hula dancing is the essence and spirit of Hawaii. Initially it was treated as a sacred ritual, but it slowly became a form of entertainment. The dance is not without meaning. In fact the heart of hula dancing is poetic text, which is referred to as Mele.
All movements are interpreted and performed on the basis of the text. In hula dancing, hand and arm gestures are combined with rhythmic twisting and swirling.
In hula dancing, each movement has a particular meaning and this coupled with the expressive hand gestures has even greater significance. While dancing, the movements that the dancers make may represent any facet of nature or life. Plants, trees, war, wind fire, water, all the elements are adequately represented and the viewer has no doubt in his mind as to its meaning.
This is because hula dancing by its movements embodies the essence of thing it represents. The dancers incorporate to exactitude the elements of life and nature and the chanting aids in narrating the story.
Initially in hula dancing, the emphasis was on the words only, but as many people do not understand those chants, this form of dancing has become more expressive and understandable.
Interestingly enough, there are many types of hula dancing and these are performed at different times and in different ways. Hula hue was a kind of endurance dance used at the end of a program while hula hapa haole was a westernized version with English words. Hula hula pertained to a type of dancing where there were many people involved. Some sang and some played the drum.
Hula o Kalkaua was dancing reserved for the King’s coronation. Hula kuhi Lima was a sitting hula where the dancer swayed the body in keeping with the music and made eloquent hand gestures. Hula ki`elei was performed by the dancer squatting on his haunches. — Hula ku`i Molokai named after the island which was famous for sports was fast , vigorous with a lot of stamping and twisting of the heels and slapping of the thighs.
Hula ki` was different from the other types of dancing in that the dancers were stiff in their posture and their actions were not smooth and flowing. Thus we see that there was a tremendous difference from the — hula kahiko which was the ancient hula centered around ceremony and chants. The modern day hula auana is very informal and there is no ceremony involved. It is danced to the accompaniment of instrument like the guitars and is very popular on the island of Hawaii.
Whatever be the form of hula dancing, the essence and spirit of the dance is always felt. It has a strange impact on the viewers and often makes one want to join in. Hula dancing in spite of metamorphosis is here to stay in some form or the other. Its magnetic charm touches all who see. The origins of hula are open to interpretation.
Some believe it came from the ancient civilization of Mu, some claim it was indigenous, while others say that it had its roots in Tahiti .Whatever be its origin or its roots, there is no doubt that the Hula is the link which binds the dancers with the universe and symbolizes their unity with all creation.
Go back to – www.indianchild.com