Hula is a form of dance that is accompanied by chant or song. It was developed in the Hawaiian islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there. Hula tells a story through the dance and hand motions.
There are two different types of hula. Ancient hula, which was performed before Western contact with Hawai‘i, is called hula kahiko. It is accompanied by chant and an ipu heke (double gourd drum) or pahu drum. Modern hula which emerged under Western contact, is called hula ‘auana. It is accompanied by song and musical instruments such as ‘ukulele, guitar or string bass.
Hula is taught in schools called hālau. The word hālau can be broken down into hā which means breath and lau which means numerous. In a group of hula dancers, the breath of dancers combine.
A hālau is a school with a common goal of learning and dancing. In a hālau everyone is your hula ‘ohana (family). You must treat everyone with respect and kindness and you will learn to be humble, pleasant, patient and gracious.
A hālau is more than learning to dance hula. You will learn the Hawaiian culture, language, history, chants, songs and stories.
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