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Origins of Hula
Hula Sites
Traditional Hula Training
Chant and Hula
Dance Steps and Styles
Instruments and Implements

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Dance Steps and Styles

Traditional hula choreography uses a set repertoire of steps and gestures, many of them imitative of everyday movements or evocative of natural elements. Many different types of hula were performed according to purpose. Some were danced standing, some sitting; some were danced with implements, others without; some had instrument accompaniment, others were only accompanied by a voice chant; some took animals or animal/gods as their inspiration (hula pua`a, hula mano, hula `ilio); some had deep religious significance, others were frivolous entertainment. The range of hula can be illustrated by listing just a few:

  • hula pala - performed to honor ali`i, prefaced by prayer and a sacrifice, full of mythological significance

  • hula `aiha`a - low style dance with bent knees, accompanied by emphatic and bombastic chant

  • hula kilelei - incorporated a strenuous ami (circular hip movement) to a chant without instrument accompaniment

  • hula noho - any type of seated hula

  • hula ala`apapa - stately and dignified dance accompanied by the ipu (gourd)

  • hula kolani - gentle and gracious movement, danced without instrumental accompaniment

  • hula mu`umu`u - dance illustrating the story of a maimed dancer visited by Hi`iaka, danced kneeling with the arms doubled up in imitation of crippled limbs

  • hula ki`i - danced with marionettes to illustrate gossipy and satirical stories

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