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Hula

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Tamar Cohen
Prof. Sandra Chatterjee
WAC 47
29 May 2007
Like They Do in Honolulu
The experience of the hula movement session as well as hula itself is difficult to write about and analyze at length for a number of reasons. To start, hula is relatively simple, not to learn, but as a social wonder and characteristic of Hawaii. Although the dance possesses religious undertones – the documentary mentioned that sincere hula dancers appeal to the Hawaiian gods to assist them – it certainly isn't driven by an overbearing religious impulse. Furthermore, although hula and its sagas are transmitted from generation to generation as oral traditions (211), the traditions are not sustained out of fear, intimidation, or social status. On the contrary, the video portrayed the Hawaiians as striving to be at one with Earth and Nature, a value that allows for fluidity, optimism and innovation in the dance. Hula dancers are not any type of group searching for expression; they are islanders who want to celebrate, tell stories, and dance to keep the Hawaiian legacy alive. Thus, the hula is unfilled with politics; it is not a non-Western culture in a battle with the West. In my opinion, with regards to hula, there is little about which to elaborate, compare, argue, or claim other than observing change over time within hula due to both internal "underground" changes and the external impact of tourism. Nevertheless, my point of view is obviously limited. I know nothing about the hula dance form beyond what I have been exposed to in this class and the few postcards and movies I've seen featuring "authentic" hula dancers work their magic… The hula was extremely enjoyable to learn from Noelani McIntosh, a sincere yet gracious Kumu. Kaholo, Hela, Kaholo again, and then Kalakaua. As I danced, I felt the currents of tradition emanate from each step. Kaholo, Hela, Kaholo again, and then Kalakaua. As I now reflect on my experience, I realize that the sensation of "tradition"–...