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Hula Dancing in Hawaii

Hawaii attracts millions of visitors and relocators constantly. Hula dancing remains one of Hawaii’s main attractions. In the center of a big blue ocean, three erupting volcanoes settled at the bottom of the water. The volcanoes filled up in the middle of the ocean making a segregated land. This occurred in several places spread out through the ocean. Several bodies of water divide Hawaiian land, called Hawaiian Islands. Polynesians migrated here. It is unknown if beaches, waves, waterfalls and other natural unique scenes existed at this time, but Polynesians continued to relocate here.

America bought Hawaii in 1959 from James Cook. James Cook discovered Polynesians. Polynesians originally discovered the Hawaiian islands. Hawaiian natives are Polynesian, not American. Many traditions existing as fun celebrations today come from highly respected, sacred Polynesian religious cultures. Spiritual Polynesian Dancing; Hula Dancing Connecting into Performing arts: Significant religious traditions of any culture is directly associated with performing arts. Dancing, singing, acting, stage plays and Broadway musicals and shows remake originals.

Playwrights created original shows and musicals according to the way they interpreted religion. Different cultures interpret identical religious teachings many different ways. Original theatrical shows clarify each cultures religion. It is impossible for any culture to follow or recognize all religious teachings. No culture is entirely righteous or wrong. Religion contradicts itself over and over. Performing arts shows which aspects of religious teachings that particular culture recognizes. Hula dancing’s primary objective was religious rituals.

“Hula dancing is a respected dance form in Hawaii that requires a series of spiritual rituals and chants” (Costantini, 2002). Both female and male Polynesians learn hula dancing at a very young age. Dancers tell stories about the culture and interpreted religious beliefs through chanting and drumming in hula dancing. “In the beginning, dancers were spiritual. They were right up there with the high priest. No one could be married and fields could not be planted until dances were done” (Molly Glentzer Staff, 2000). Dances portrayed specific messages.

Dancers told a story, gave a command, taught a lesson, made prayer requests through dancing. Traditional hula students followed strict behavior guidelines. Students focused only on excelling at hula dancing. Daily living habits were exclusively devoted to hula dancing. If the activity conflicted with hula dancing, they refused to participate. Some hula students could not cut their hair, fingernails, had to follow a particular diet and a rigid schedule. These particular hula schools exist today. Some schools are not so strict. The traditional hula schools keep respect for hula dancing.

Performance forms: Hula Dances; Costumes, Steps, Props and Music: Hula dancing traditional costumes consists of lei’s around dancer’s neck and head. Dancers wear grass skirts, bare feet and coconut bras. Dancers perform to live percussion accompaniment. Musicians make rhythm sounds on wooden instruments. Many cultures and music styles are combined in the musical rhythms. Jazz, African rhythm drumming, Mexican music styles, and Middle Eastern belly dancing are very noticeable in hula performances. Hula performances tempos vary from very slow to very fast.

Choreography uses costumes to accent dance moves. The grass skirts are probably a very significant tool in learning hula dances. Knowledgeable instructors notice dancers weaknesses and strengths depending on how the grass skirt and lei moves. Grass skirt movements show hip and shoulder technique and balance. Grass skirts give the illusion dancers are doing nothing but having fun swinging the grass skirt around. This is probably when the moves are performed correctly. Hours of tedious work goes into making dances look effortless. Most dance styles consist of very few signature dance steps or moves.

All exciting twists, kicks, splits, jumps, leaps, acrobats, and turns in ballroom, ballet, jazz, tap, gymnastics come from less than ten basic moves. The elaborate moves in elite hula dancers originate from very basic steps. Hula dancing has four basic steps. Ami Step; is a hip swing movement Koholo; running or traveling step; Four to the right- four to the left. Ka’o-foot extension to either side on either foot Kahela-most difficult. Combines all of the steps together. (Information from clip AOL music site; Lilo and Stitch; Sanders and Deblois).

In Hula dancing, the most significant part was chanting. The dancers actually transformed into something else. Dancers became a bird, tree, flower, river, lake, ocean, waterfall, wind, sun, earth. No one knows who actually performed the first hula dance. All native Hawaiians believe gods and goddesses performed original spiritual Polynesian dances. Middle eastern belly dance moves are very comparable to hula dancing. At least it appears that way. Middle Eastern women were taught belly dancing preparing for child birth. Hula dancing may have the same traditions.

Myths circulated that only men hula danced. Elaborate and attention getting women’s costumes purpose may have been to announce that everyone learns to hula dance. It is passed on from generation to generation. Dancers practicing hours a day eventually look for ways to enhance their dancing. Props make ordinary dances come alive. Dancers sometimes use hula hoops, symbols, tambourines, sticks, knives, swords, and eating fire. Arms and hand gestures portrays what dancers are becoming. Symbols play a definite role in hula dancing. Dancers use symbols to work with the other percussion sounds.

Transition of Hula Dancing; From History to Today; Hula dancing progressed from religious practices to into a major form of entertainment and tourist attraction. Lei’s become a fun symbolism of hula dancing. Lei’s have their own history. In early Polynesian cultures, not everyone wore lei’s. “The most coveted lei’s were made with feathers and worn exclusively by royalty” (Bleiberg, 2003). Lei’s in Hawaii today are big business. People purchase lei’s in every shop in Hawaii every day. People all around America purchases lei’s in novelty shops, convenient stores and festivals in America.

Lei’s are pretty, colorful, and are significant symbols of beaches in Hawaii. Hawaii sell the most unique and elaborate lei’s. Some lei’s cost $1,000. 00. Hawaii attracts demands for lei’s. Some are made of feathers, seashells, flowers, ribbons. Lei’s are part of the costume every hula dancer. Polynesians regarded lei’s with respect rosaries or eagle feathers used by Indians. Actual dance moves became more important in hula dancing than chanting. Today, hula dance fans emphasizes physical movements. Majority of hula dance fans and audiences are not traditional Polynesian dancers.

Modified forms of Hula dance DVD’s and classes are sold as fitness routines. These hula dance workouts imply anyone can imitate competitive dancers. Professional hula dancers spend their entire day working on dance. Perfection of professional dancers can only be accomplished if the tape was followed about seven or eight times every day. Of course, DVD’s will not tell the customer this because they will not sale. Hula classes are offered throughout the nation. Many people sign up for these for fun or recreation purposes.

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