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Origins of Hula
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Book» Hula Kapu

Traditional Hula Training

Dancers were dedicated to Laka, goddess of hula, and trained in a religious manner. Students were kapu and set apart from others, following a particular protocol and strict rules of conduct. Among the rules to follow was avoidance of sugarcane or other sweet foods, no sexual contact, no contact with a corpse and maintenance of personal cleanliness.

The kumu hula, or teacher, trained and disciplined dancers and was assisted by a po`opua`a, or head student, who carried out instructions, collected fines, etc. A paepae assisted the po`opua`a. Students were divided into `olapa - the younger more agile dancers - and ho`opa`a who sat or knelt in stationary positions to play instruments or chant mele. A guard or ho`oulu stood at the halau door to bless entering students, keep order and refresh offerings on Laka's altar.

Ailolo, or graduation, marked the completion of a dancer's studies. This included a ceremonial nighttime bath in the ocean, prayers, offerings, blessings from the kumu, feasting and a lifting of kapu restrictions. Additional `uniki ceremonies marked a dancer's debut.

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