Hula Dancers

1002 Words5 Pages
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
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Hula dances are storytelling dances, and many stories are passed from generation to generation; the boundary lines of history and legend are thus blurred and each story becomes cherished as a window into the past. My suspicion of hula 's traditional roots was certainly confirmed.
As Stiller 's thesis contends, the hula tradition has been largely preserved and advanced due to the efforts of women in both the foreground – as soloists and desirable performers – and in the behind-the-scenes, or what Stiller prefers to call the "underground, what happens backstage during teaching and preparation (210-11). Throughout the twentieth century, the "staging…[and] continuity of the performance tradition" has been promoted and shaped by "the hands of women" (211). This is a fascinating social observation, surprisingly devoid of any overt value judgments from Stiller 's end.
Tourism and commercialism doubtless played a role in hula 's development. I was surprised that Noelani – a Hawaiian herself – taught us a hula dance accompanied by an English song! Furthermore, the song 's lyrics presumptuously, albeit playfully, depicted the residents of Honolulu as the "Other" with repetitive use of the word "they." Noelani explained that tourists encouraged the hula to develop in certain ways rather than
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