A world reknown hula competition like the Merrie Monarch Festival is the best example of world wide love for this expression of dance and joy. It covers all age groups of participants sharing their love, from old to very young.
There is a lot to see and understand in hula dancing and techniques. Below is a simple primer in understanding the hula dance and all its nuances.
Hula is typically broken down into two different styles of hula dancing. The hula kahiko is the more ancient/traditional style of dancing which is done to chants and traditional instruments like pahu (various drums), ipu (hollowed gourd), iliili (small flat rocks) and other percussions. Here dancing and movement is done with an ipu.
The hula auana is the more modern style associated with a graceful dancing and movement. This is accompanied by harmonious music with contemporary songs, beautiful and elegant costumes, and exotic adornment like haku leis (intricate braids of fresh flowers and leaves) on the head, neck and various body adornments.
Most Halaus (hula dance troups) spend an inordinate amounts of time practicing together under a kumu hula ( teacher). Most kumu come from Hawaiian heritage and have a deep love of the culture and hula that they impart on their haumana (students) . There are special halau’s for the keiki (children), women’s troups, men’s troups and the tutu’s (grand parents). Hula is universal in its appeal to all age groups and is celebrated by the entire family.
The hula hand will show various hula gestures that pertain to a certain act or description.
This gesture means aloha or love
This gesture means mauna or mountain
This gesture means moana or ocean
In watching the final’s competition of the halau’s during the Merrie Monarch Festival, one is completely in awe of the sheer beauty and pure love that each and every hula dancer imparts on the audience. You can actually feel through the music, chanting and mesmerizing moves pure joy in celebrating dance. The audiences are all enthralled and show mass cheers for each and every performance.
Take a look at one of these final competition performances and see if you can see any of the simple gestures above from this show. This is last years Miss Aloha Hula winner of 2009.
To gain a better understanding to hula dancing and its history, you can visit this site for more information. http://www.kaimi.org/history_hula.htm
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