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Missionaries and the Decline of Hula
Dancers and Teachers
Hula and Tourism
Cultural Renaissance
Bibliography - Hula

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Cultural Renaissance

In the late 1960s and 1970s, the Hawaiian community experienced a cultural renaissance. Growing interest in Hawaiian language, music, traditional navigation and voyaging, and hula sparked new pride amongst Hawaiians. Cultural awareness spawned a political activism seeking greater autonomy and sovereignty, protection of traditional native gathering rights, and an end to the bombing of Kaho`olawe island for military training purposes.

Hula, alive for many decades as a tourist attraction, began to make its traditional roots more visible. In 1970, `Iolani Luahine and her accompanist Lokalia Montgomery were the first recipients of the State Order of Distinction for Cultural Leadership. As Samuel Crowningburg Amalu noted, "She [`Iolani] danced, and the young Hawaiians and part Hawaiians found again a portion of the glory of their lost heritage. They looked once more on an art that had meaning . . . She gave significance to the national dance of Hawai`i."

The Merrie Monarch festival - now a highlight of each year's hula calendar - in 1971 became a cultural event that includes a hula competition. In that first year, nine halau competed. Today 30 or so groups compete and the event enjoys live TV coverage throughout the state. While the competition includes `auana, or modern, hula categories with plenty of room for contemporary interpretation and innovation, the contest also honors kahiko, or traditional, dance.

Other hula events include the annual Kamehameha competition and Prince Lot festival on O`ahu, a Moloka`i event honoring hula's origins on that island, keiki and kupuna competitions, and many other more casual performances for events such as May Day, Kuhio Day and other holidays.

 Sites for further information

"U.S. swoons in the ’20s to Hawaii's magic spell" (Star-Bulletin)

Prince Lot Hula Festival

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