Hawaiians tell the history of their ancestors by dancing the Hula.
When we think of Hawaiian parties, we imagine dressing up in grass skirts and coconut shell bikinis, while dancing to the ukulele. Most people know that hula is a dance accompanied by traditional Hawaiian music, but to Hawaiians, the hula is more than a dance. It's a very important part of Hawaiian culture, history, and storytelling. It tells the history of a unique group of people. The ancient Hawaiians had no written language, so they used the movement of the body to tell stories about life’s happenings, traditions and customs, morals or past events. During religious ceremonies, it was also danced as a tribute to the goddesses, Laka and Pele. For Hawai’ians the Hula is a way to show respect for their heritage and the world we live in.
Waves, trees and fishes
While dancing, the hula dancers think about becoming objects and actions. They may imitate trees, fishes, waves or a war battle. Every movement of the body means something, but the true dance is in the hands that are telling the story. When they tell about rain, they make the Ua motion, putting their hands above their heads and bringing them down slowly while moving their fingers. The Pua motion tells about a flower, or the Ho`olohe move imitates someone listening.
When performing, Hula dancers wear costumes, which are floral leis around their necks, grass skirts called a pau, and anklets made from whale bone or dog teeth.
Can you do the hula?
Look at hula dancers and see if you can understand the story they are telling. Now, try to tell a story with your hands too, try imitating a bird, a fish or the ocean.
By Eloise Kruger (Whyzz writer)