Ka `Ōlapa a me ka Luapele
“The Dancer & the Crater”

Hula is a deeply valued trait of the Hawaiian culture. To the rest of the world outside of indigenous culture, one sees hula and sees bright clothes, swaying hips, fabric flowers, and plastic coconut bras. Hula to so many tourists who visit the islands, see the “luaus” (correctly pronounced “lū`au” which itself is a more modern name for party) and many want to start dancing hula thinking that it just takes the hands to go from side to side and the hips to sway as you step from left to right. And only because it’s either cute, “exotic,” or just plain entertaining.

Admiration is a welcomed reaction. However, the admiration of hula by the rest of the world should come more from valuing its cultural, historical, and narrative value than that of its entertainment value. It isn’t wrong to be entertained, but when that dominates the understanding and continues to be the sole knowledge of the world, then we only promote ignorance. Hula isn’t simply a dance. It’s a narrative device. Oral traditions are passed down into each hand, foot, and hip motion. Each motion is a word. Each word is a moment of power, expressing not as entertainment, but of a people with deep hurt attempting to salvage and perpetuate the little bit of life left in their culture. Even with what little we have left, the Hawaiian culture is rich. That is why hula takes years of learning.

More history on hula will come over the next few days. I have a few posts I’m a little behind on.

KA`ŌLAPA A ME KA LUAPELE

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