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The Rebirth of Hula

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    “Hula is the language of the heart, and therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people” –King David Kalakaua. In the event of the rebirth of hula, reaction was shown most out of all of the three themes revolution, reaction, and reform. This is because throughout this event, it showed how the missionaries reacted to what the Hawaiians had already established on their own. This included how they reacted to the hula and the Hawaiian traditions such as nudity.

    The missionaries didn’t like it so they were quick and smart with their ways of changing the Hawaiians. Just because of this reaction that the missionaries had, caused the event of the rebirth of hula. Hula was a way that the Hawaiian people connected with the gods. It was a part of them; that all changed when the missionaries came to Hawaii in 1820. A social cause would be that the missionaries had different opinions about the art of hula. Some of the first missionaries, such as Captain Cook remarked on the grace and beauty of the native dance (Marty, AA2).

    Other missionaries, such as Hiram Bingham, wrote in his diary “The whole arrangement and process of their old hulas were designed to promote lascivious nous [sic], and of course the practice of them could not flourish in modest communities. They had been interwoven too with their superstitions, and made subservient to the honor of their gods, and then rulers, either living or departed or deified (Schmitt, Robert, L1). ” With this statement, he showed that he didn’t like or appreciate the art of hula. Hula was then seen as more of a “tourist attraction” than a way to connect with the gods.

    This is an economical cause. Since it was only seen as a tourist attraction and wasn’t supposed to be performed or practiced, it went “underground” so that the tradition could still live on (Harington, Daniel, I2). In 1851, the missionaries thought that maybe hula could be used to provide entertainment for visitors. So with that, hula was allowed in the public and was performed for sailors and travelers (“Hula”, FF2 and 12). Because the missionaries apparently had a lot of power unlike the Hawaiian ali’i, they were able to declare hula illegal.

    Many if the missionaries were appalled by the “noisy” and “heathenish” hula, and they made great efforts to band the dance (Snorokel, Molokini, Q1). Eventually they were able to convert the royalty to Christianity and therefore were able to declare hula illegal (Snorokel, Molokini, Q1). Hawaiians believed that hula originated when Pele, the goddess of fire, commanded her sister Laka, to dance for her. Another way the hula was believed to have started was that Hi’iaka danced to appease her sister Pele. A lot of the dances today are based of Hi’iaka and many began to honor Laka as well.

    Laka was then known as the goddess of hula. The chronological order of how the hula became to be what it is today would be Laka or Hi’iaka dancing for Pele, hula kahiko (the traditional style of dancing), missionaries and their negative remarks on hula, conversion to Christianity, banning of hula, king Kalakaua gets elected king (1874), rebirth of hula, and a different style of dancing (‘auana). When missionaries came in 1820, the declared hula illegal because they thought it was “noisy” and “Heathenish” (Snorokel, Molokini, Q1).

    King Kalakaua brought back hula on his coronation day in February of 1883 (Harington, Daniel, I2). In ways, hula was a natural thing for the Hawaiian people. First, it was a part of the (“Hula”, FF1). Second, it basically started before any human beings started dancing (“Hula”, FF1). It started with their gods and was carried on and presented through human beings. It was a way of connecting to their gods; a connection that only they have with them. The missionaries banned the hula because they thought it was bad.

    When King David Kalakaua took the thrown, all the damage that the missionaries caused, would be made up. How he did this though, started from when the missionaries first arrived in 1820, then the conversion to Christianity, then the banning of hula, king Kalakaua taking the thrown, and then what he did to revive hula. This all started in February of 1874 when he planned his coronation day on his 50th birthday (Mark, K1 and Schmitt, Robert, U2). On his coronation day, he planned things from both western traditions and Hawaiian traditions.

    He planned balls and other western entertainments. With that he planned to have olis and hula dances to be performed (Hopkins, Jerry, R2). He had about 50 dancers to put on a show that consisted of 260 songs and olis. Some were made special for this event (Hopkins, Jerry, R2 and Snorokel, Molokini, Q2). In the state of how the Hawaiian traditions were in, it was a natural thing for Kalakaua to act this way and make this drastic change. He wanted to restore the Hawaiian traditions before it was lost forever (Harington, Daniel, I2).

    In the quote that he said, “Hula is the language of the heart and therefore, the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people (Honua, Kalani, P1). ” He really meant it. Hula is the language of the heart and is the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people, if it was to be lost, they would have a language of the heart nor a heartbeat for that fact. It was clear that he didn’t want that to happen, so he took this opportunity to bring it back. This was an initial change. Although hula, the art itself came back, it wasn’t the same. It was changed. A new style of hula was hula ‘auana which was a modern style of dancing.

    Before the missionaries came, some instruments the Hawaiians used in hula kahiko consist of the drums (pahu), feathered guard (uli uli), rock castanets (‘ili ‘ili), and bamboo rattles (puili), and striking sticks (kala’au). It was also traditionally danced by men (Polynesian Cultural Center, GG2). As for hula ‘auana consisted of more westernized instruments; such as guitar, ukulele, and bass-guitars (Hopkins, Jerry, R4 and Joeroes, Conchita, W3). The difference between hula kahiko and hula ‘auana is that hula kahiko is a dance doe in the old energetic style accompanied by chants and percussion instruments, but no music.

    As for hula ‘auana, it is the more modernized version of the dance featuring beautiful flowers and graceful movements and often done to the romantic sounds of the steel drums and ukulele (Polynesian Cultural Center, GG4). After all this change that hula has gone through, it has lost its real purpose, which is a way to communicate to the gods, to a way to lure visitors to the islands (Polynesian Cultural Center, GG4). This change was significant because to the Hawaiians, hula was a big part of them and the culture. It was the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people therefore was important to them as a culture (Ohumukini, Vance, J1).

    So many changes were made to the hula. Because this was so drastic, they had a style that had both aspects of hula kahiko and hula ‘auana. This was called hula ku’i. Ku’i means joined and was presented in kahiko and ‘auana, but mostly ‘auana (Joeroes, Conchita, W2). Hula was important to the Hawaiians because they had no written language before the missionaries this meant that every little piece of information, traditions, or story that was passed down from generation to generation was through the art of hula. The Hawaiians actually had a reason to dance hula. It wasn’t just labeled as a tourist attraction.

    In ancient times, hula was danced as a religious ritual rather than just a tourist attraction (McKenzie, Bill, HH1). I agree with this author because the Hawaiians did depend on chanting and the hula to tell stories and pass down legends. Without hula or chanting, they have no way of telling or passing down stories to the young. They would practice in a large building with an altar in honor of the goddess, Laka (Hanalei, Nani, O1). This proved that it was more than just entertainment; they danced it in honor of Laka. Hula was more complex than what it appears to be.

    It was performed with symbiotic arm and hand movements while being graceful (Colombia Encyclopedia, X1). Also the rules to just learn the hula was very strict and Hawaiians going to the hula schools were required to follow them while learning the dance. One rule was that the dancers were not allowed to cut their hair or finger nails. Another rule was they could not engage in sex or eat foods that they were kapu (forbidden) to them. All these rules were applied to the hula students because the kumu hula (hula teacher) believed they could learn the hula better if they didn’t engage in any of these kapu activities (McKenzie, Bill, HH1).

    This was significant because it basically changed the Hawaiian traditions. Hula wasn’t the same after the rebirth of hula (Ka’imi Na’auao O Hawaii Nei, F2). Hula was now more of a tourist attraction than just praising Laka or any of the other gods, passing down information or a story (McKenzie, Bill, HH1). This was significant to world history because it changed the way any foreigner thought about the Hawaiians. Hawaiians still danced with a purpose, but foreigners thought about it as just something nice to watch. After the rebirth of the hula, the tradition was gone; it had totally different purposes for being performed (“Hula”, FF1).

    There was just so much change over a period of time. There were two different styles that evolved off of hula kahiko, many instrements added, movement, steps, and costumes (“Hula”, FF2). This would be a significant change because tourists visit every day in hope to see something “Hawaiian” such as the hula. But in their eyes, it’s just a pretty dance that they like to watch. The Hawaiian traditions, especially the hula, are one of the things Hawaii was known for. In that case, every person who came here to visit expected to see in any form, no matter if it was traditional or not, they would want to watch the hula (Mark, K2).

    Some people thought that it was graceful and beautiful, for Hawaiians, it was that but also a story. Possibly one of the god’s stories being told to the people through the art of hula (Polynesian Cultural Center, GG1). Hula has been through death, revival, and change but has still managed to live through that for all this time because of the reaction of the missionaries. But without Kalakua having hula incorporated in his coronation, this might have been a tradition lost for the Hawaiian people. Kalakaua did many things, but this was all done by the heart because he cared too much for this tradition to be lost.

    What if Kalakaua didn’t care about the Hawaiian traditions? If this didn’t happen, would the art of hula find its way to become what it is now? Personally, with the knowledge of how the missionaries acted towards hula, without Kalakaua’s help, the art of hula would still be dead today. Bibliography (Secondary, F) Ka’imi Na’auao o Hawaii Nei. “The History of Hula”. 2005. 17. Aug. 2011. <http://www. kaimai. org/history_hula. htm>. (Secondary, I) Daniel Hanngton. “Hula and Mele”. Culture/leis. 20. Aug. 2011. <http://www. hawaiianencyclopidia. com/hula-and mele. asp>. (Secondary, J) Vance Ohumukini. “Hula History”.

    Dancers. 2009. 20. Aug. 2011. <http://hulafame. com/idio. html>. (Secondary, K) Mark. “History of Hula”. 2007. 20. Aug. 2011. <http://discover-oahu. com/History-of-Hula. html>. (Secondary, L) Robert Schmitt. “Missionaries and the Decline of Hula. Library. 2011. 20. Aug. 2011. <http://www. hawaiihistory. org/index. cfm? fusea=ig. page&categoryID=253>. (Secondary, O) Nani Hanalei. “history of Hula. 2006. 23. Aug. 2011. <http://www. hula-ashland. com/hula. history. html>. (Secondary, P) Kalani Honua. “Hula at Kalani. Culture and Arts. 2000. 23. Aug. 2011. <http://www. kalani. com/dance/hula-kalani>. Secondary, Q) Molokini Sonorkel. Hula. Hawaii’s Art and Soul. 1997. 23, August 2011. <http://www. aloha-hawaii. com/hawaii/hula/>. (Secondary, R) Jerry Hopkins. Kalakaua-ther merrie monarch. The Hula. Hong Kong: Leonard Lueras. 1982. (Secondary, U) Robert Schmitt. David Kalakaua. Library. 2011. 25, August 2011. <http://www. hawaiihistory. org/index. cfm? fusections. 1g. page & pageID=404>. (Secondary, W) Conchita Joenoes. Hula Auana. Dance. 25, August 2011. <http://www. maiana. ni/gb/danceauana. htm>. (Secondary, X) Colombia Encylopedia. Hula. Encyclopedia. 2007. 23, August 2011. <http://www. nfoplease. com/cc6/ent/A0932074. html>. (Secondary, AA) Marty. Hula. The Heartbeat of the Hawaiian Culture. 2011, Aprill, 29. 25, August 2011. <http://www. inspiredgiftgiving. com/hula-the-heartbeat-of-the-hawaiian-culture>. (Secondary, FF) Hula Culture and history. 29, August 2011. <http://gohula. com/>. (Secondary, GG) Polynesian Cultural /center. Hawaii: Hula. Hula. 29, August 2011. <http://www. polynesia. com/Hawaii/hula/html>. (Secondary, HH) Bill McKenzie. History of the Hawaiian Hula dance. 5, February 2006. 29, August 2011. <http://bilmck. searchwrap. com/swa39048. htm>.

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