The Origins of the Hula Dance

Women were dancing the hula dance long before tourists started flocking to Hawaii. They performed this dance which is native to the state to honor their king, animals or a goddess. The traditional forms of hula are called hula kahiko. Understanding the different types of hula kahiko makes the modern form even more beautiful. While the hula dancer may appear to be as one of the Cincy strippers at times, the story that they tell helps set this beautiful dance form apart.

Hula Ali’i

There are many different types of hula ali’i, but what ties them all together is that they pay tribute to a king or queen. Each is performed to a chant either performed by the participants or another group. This dance usually includes slow movements, and it can be done seated or standing.

Hula `Ili`ili

Dancers performing the hula `Ili`ili hold two smooth stones in each hand that they clap together in time to the words of a chant. One of the oldest forms of hula, this dance is performed to pay tribute to the island’s natural beauty.

Hula Holoholona

The hula holoholona dance is done to pay homage to various animals including the pig, turtle, shark and dog. The most important element of this dance that can take on many different forms is that it resembles the animal. Therefore, dancers can stand, kneel or sit.

Hula Pele

Ancient Hawaiian residents saw Pele as the goddess of the volcano. Various legends abound about her in different regions of the islands. Dancers performing hula Pele tell those legends often using exaggerated motions.

Understanding the different ancient forms of hula gives people an even deeper understanding of the beautiful modern hula dances. Enjoy seeing them on your next trip to Hawaii or learn to dance the hula yourself.