Hula: Body & Spirit

11/2/2020

Special mahalo to Waikiki Beach Walk’s cultural advisor and Kumu Hula, Blaine Kia - for his insights to help craft this article.

Outrigger Resorts Signature Experiences

More than swaying hips, elegant hand gestures and lithe feet, hula embodies the history of the Hawaiian islands. Centuries ago when gods and people shared these Islands, and time was measured by the waxing and waning of the moon, the hula was born. The first dances were linked to Pele, goddess of volcanic fires, who made a request to her younger sister, Hi‘iaka. The Pele cycle provided the hula with a repertoire that was both religious and entertaining. Rhythmic and poetic oli (chants) combined with disciplined motion tell stories of love and passion, anger and revenge, as well as loyalty and betrayal, all parts of Pele’s tempestuous nature.

While the hula is distinctively Hawaiian, it was once intertwined with the rhythmic dances brought to Hawai‘i by settlers from the Tahitian islands a thousand or more years ago. However, when contact between Tahiti and Hawai‘i was lost, the Hawaiian culture evolved in isolation. Hula was part of that evolution, with dancers inspired by lyrical chants and paced by deep-throated, shark-skin-covered drums (pahu), gourd rattles (‘uli‘uli), slit-bamboo sticks (pu‘ili), tapping sticks (kala‘au), clapping stones (‘ili‘ili) and dogtooth anklets (kupe‘e niho‘ilio).

Presently, two styles of hula are danced, each with its own variations. Hula kahiko follows a traditional path in terms of costume and theme, while hula ‘auana moves toward the present. Hula ‘auana is enchanting, most often danced by gracious wahine (women) of all ages in long mu‘umu‘u, and you’ll enjoy watching it throughout your Hawaiian vacation. But it’s in kahiko that the real story lies … literally.

In ancient Hawai‘i, everything was always taught through chanting and storytelling, detailing and cataloging the lineage of a people and all of the events in their personal—and collective—history. Physical motions assigned to interpret and represent the chants are lessons and prayers, worshipping and honoring not only the chants themselves but those who chanted them before.

Alongside Hawaiian music and chant, the movements are intended to emphasize a certain message, with the swaying movements representing everything from a tree moving in a breeze to a feeling of yearning. Dancers are trained in movements that can be reconfigured in a wide number of storytelling formats. Hands use sign language for ideas like love or anger, or objects like the moon, rain or a fragrant flower. While standards and rituals attached to the dance do exist, hula differs from island-to-island, each halau hula (hula school) influenced by the style of its kumu (teacher). This beautiful expression can either be performed in a sitting position (noho dance) or standing position (luna dance), and you're likely to see a combination of both when watching a Hawaiian performance.

Prior to 1820, both men and women danced hula, sometimes together and sometimes apart. However, shortly after the missionaries arrived, neither genders performed it because of their disapproving presence. Missing the spiritual message and mistaking the sensual for sin, the missionaries sought to repress it, nearly eliminating its practice in the process. Luckily, in more remote places where the ways of old lingered, the hula was saved and taught. The few who knew the chants and dances safeguarded what was on the cusp of being lost and paved the way to hula’s restoration as a cultural tradition.

King Kalākaua is largely credited with having rescued the hula from oblivion, showcasing performances at his coronation (1883) and birthday jubilee (1886), as well as sponsoring its practice and expanding the repertoire with new chants and dances. 

Today, hundreds of halau and thousands of dancers, including many far from Hawaiian shores, dance hula, learning not only the movements but also its spiritual and aesthetic message. A cultural tradition on the verge of being lost is no longer endangered. Kumu and dancers perform to the highest of standards, adapting stylistically in ways that keep the hula a living art and a cultural treasure that defines what is appealingly unique about Hawai‘i.

As part of Outrigger Resorts' Signature Experiences, you too can learn the art of authentic hula yourself through complimentary lessons at Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort and Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. Here you can also try other Hawaiian cultural activities with Outrigger's cultural director, Aunty Luana Maitland - such as making a kukui nut bracelet or taking an ukelele lesson that let you explore the island's unique culture. Or swing by Waikiki Beach Walk for a free Hula class on the plaza every Sunday morning. The unique and enriching experiences enable guests from around the world to bring a little bit of Hawaii's spirit home with them.


Subscribe and Keep Up With The Latest Posts

  • 1
    Select Your Destination
change
Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort | Hawaii
  • Beachfront location
  • Home of Duke’s Waikiki
  • Hawaii’s best live music venue, Blue Note Hawaii
  • Voyager 47 Club Lounge
Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort | Hawaii
  • Home of Hawaiian Music, Kani Ka Pila Grille
  • Renovated modern guest rooms
  • Immersive cultural activities
  • Voyager 47 Club Lounge
  • Some public spaces may not be available
  • Take advantage of special Preview Rates
Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Hawaii’s first and only craft hotel
  • Home of The Beachcomber Originals
  • Hawaiian Aroma Caffe, Waikiki’s most Instagrammed coffee shop
  • Island’s longest bar at Maui Brewing Co
Waikiki Malia by Outrigger |Hawaii
  • Intimate retreat for adventure seekers
  • Easy access to Waikiki Beach
  • Choice for value-minded families and groups
  • Spacious guest rooms and studios
  • Offering connecting rooms and kitchenettes
OHANA Waikiki East by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Spacious guest rooms with kitchenettes
  • Ideal for large groups or families
  • Steps to Waikiki Beach and International Market Place
  • Onsite restaurants – Appetito Craft Pizza & Wine Bar and Tanaka of Tokyo
Airport Honolulu Hotel | Hawaii
  • Only half a mile from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport
  • Pet friendly
  • Convenient for business travelJust minutes from Pearl Harbor
Waikiki Shore by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Only resort condo directly on Waikiki Beach
  • Sweeping panoramic ocean views
  • Family friendly
  • Perfect for extended stays
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Regency on Beachwalk Waikiki by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Intimate, boutique style condo resort
  • Situated in the Waikiki Beach Walk shopping and dining district
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Honua Kai Resort & Spa | Maui
  • 38 tropical beachfront acres
  • 3-acre aquatic playground
  • AAA Four Diamond Award accredited
  • Luxury, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom suites on Kaanapali Beach
The Kapalua Villas Maui | Hawaii
  • Located on 22,000-acre Kapalua Resort
  • Choose from 3 beaches and 11 restaurants
  • Ocean and golf room views
  • Offering two magnificent golf courses
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Palms at Wailea Maui by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Located within the world-famous Wailea Resort community
  • A short drive from the Shops at Wailea and beaches
  • Near Wailea’s most renowned restaurants
Aina Nalu Lahaina by Outrigger | Maui
  • Boutique-style condos in heart of Lahaina
  • Two blocks away from Front Street
  • Walking distance to shops and restaurants
Kaanapali Maui at the Eldorado by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Fronts the fairways of Kaanapali Beach Resort
  • Short walk from Whalers Village
  • Featuring three swimming pools
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Royal Kahana Maui by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Ocean view of Molokai and Lanai
  • Boasts oceanfront pool
  • Private lanai
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Napili Shores Maui by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Offering stunning views of Lanai and Molokai
  • Newly renovated condos
  • Oceanfront on property dining at the Gazebo Restaurant
Waipouli Beach Resort & Spa Kauai by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Heated river pool running through two-acre property
  • Features flumed water slides
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Lae Nani Resort Kauai | Hawaii
  • Oceanfront condos
  • Includes an ocean pool within a natural stone breakwater
  • Adjacent to the Coconut MarketPlace
Kiahuna Plantation Resort Kauai by Outrigger | Hawaii
  • Cottage-style beachfront condos
  • Complimentary access to Poipu Athletic Club
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Welcome to Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa
Watch the majestic manta rays that swim through Keauhou Bay. Or spend your day relaxing at the spa. It all starts here, on Hawaii Island.
Kanaloa at Kona by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Set on 18 oceanfront acres
  • Boasts 3 swimming pools and 2 tennis courts
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Fairway Villa Waikoloa by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Guests treated to infinity pool and lava rock whirlpool
  • Surrounded by Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed golf course
  • Selection of on property dining options
Kohala Coast Vacation Rentals by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Five distinct properties to choose from
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
  • Close to upscale King’s Shops and Queen’s Market Place
  • Golf at Beach Course
Royal Sea Cliff Kona by Outrigger | Hawaii Island
  • Set on a lava rock bluff
  • Panoramic views of the Kona coast
  • 5-minute drive to restaurants and shops
  • Ability to select a specific condo unit
Castaway Island, Fiji Resort | Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
  • Beachfront bures
  • Complimentary beach services
  • Kava ceremony welcomes guests
  • Wood-carving guest activity
  • Enjoy Meke traditional song and dance
Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort | Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
  • Beachfront bures
  • Offering Meimei nanny service
  • Talai butler service available
  • Named #1 Family Resort
  • Amazing firewalking ceremony
  • Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort | Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
    • Luxury beachfront suites
    • Mauritian Rum tasting experience
    • Dance to Sega music
    • Relax on private beach
    • Complimentary kid’s club
    Evening at Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort
    • Located beachfront on Lamai Beach
    • 2 swimming pools
    • Fitness center
    • Restaurants and in-room dining
    • 3 meeting rooms
    Garden Villa | Outrigger Khao Lak Beach Resort
    • Located beachfront on Bangsak Beach
    • Swimming pool
    • Fitness center
    • Restaurants and in-room dining
    • 3 meeting rooms
    Surin Terrace | Outrigger Surin Beach Resort
    • Located on Surin Beach
    • Boutique resort
    • 2 swimming pools
    • Restaurant and in-room dining
    Waikiki Beach | Hawaii
    • Famous for Waikiki Beach
    • Hike Diamond Head Crater
    • Take a historical journey at Pearl Harbor
    • Birthplace of legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku
    • Home to Lolani Palace, US’s only royal place
    Experience a gorgeous Maui sunset
    • Voted “Best Island in the US”
    • Home to Haleakala volcano
    • Famed for whale watching during the winter months
    • Famous scenic stretch road to Hana
    • Mile long of sandy shore at Kaanapali Beach
    Beaches of Kauai | Hawaii
    • Nicknamed the Garden Island
    • Known for lush valleys, waterfalls and hiking trails
    • Has more beaches than any other Hawaiian Island
    • Most hiking trails than an other Hawaiian Island
    • Largest coffee plantation in the US
    Hawaii Island (Big Island)
    • Often referred to as the “Big Island”
    • Kilauea volcano is the most active and largest in the world
    • Known for black sand beaches
    • Grows most of the world’s macadamia nuts
    • Home to some of the world’s largest telescopes
    • 2
      Select Your Stay Dates
    • 3
      Choose Rooms & Guests
    Adults
    Children
    Rooms
    Apply A Special Rate
    Oh snap! It looks like the rate you selected is not available.
    Your Selection Has Been Applied
    Your Summary
    Back to Top