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The Dance

The art of hula in Hawaii arrived with the Polynesian voyagers that inhabited the Hawaiian Islands. Legend has it that Hi'iaka, danced to favor her sister, Pele, the goddess of the volcano and thus the hula was born. Regardless of the history, hula has definite ties to religious practices and is steeped in ritual and prayer. With the coming of the Missionaries and their Western value system, the hula was viewed as a heathen practice and was banned. King David Kalakaua is credited with the rebirth of this traditional art form when, in the late 19th century, he encouraged hula practitioners to resume the custom. The hula became glamorized in the 1930s and 40s and the dance evolved from its sacred beginnings to the more seductive adaptation portrayed by Hollywood. The ancient form continued to be practiced by traditionalists. Today, the hula is divided into two areas: the hula kahiko, an ancient form relying on the chant for accompaniment and the hula 'auana, a more contemporary style choreographed to song rather than chant. Whether it is danced to the rhythmic beat of the pahu (drum), the rich tones of the chant or the strumming of the ukulele, the beauty of the hula is at the heart of Hawaii.


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