Hula in the Modern World: What is Hula today?

Essay by akamai9999College, UndergraduateA+, May 2005

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Hula in the Modern World: What is Hula today?

In the documentary film, "American Aloha: Hula beyond Hawaii," Dr. Amy K Stillman of the University of Michigan states that, "the hula tradition is far more than just dance." Hula has evolved from the temple priests of ancient Hawaii, to the days of King David Kalakaua, and to the infamous stage of the Merrie Monarch Hula Competition that takes place in Hawaii once a year in April. Hula has pioneered its way through the changing and modernization of the years. It is danced and taught in many styles, old and new, all over the world. Today, Kumu (master hula teacher) Patrick Makuakane of Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu, Kumu Mark Kealii Hoomalu of the Academy of Hawaiian Arts, and Director Judy Charles of Ke Kai O'Uhane (the Spirit of the Sea), strive to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture through the teachings of hula.

Each teacher has his or her own purpose, style, and way of teaching hula.

Patrick Makuakane, Kumu Hula/Director of Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu (the many feathered wreaths at the summit, held in high esteem), has had great success with his style of hula. He created the style, Hula mua. His website states that Hula mua is the halau's trademark and pays respect to traditional hula while bringing it into a modern world . Patrick drew much attention to old and new members of the hula world when he brought his show, "The Natives are Restless" to Hawaii in March of 2000. Makuakane describes his show, "very confrontational and provocative. It is something that can be hard to watch. With the metaphorical approach that I was taking, I wasn't sure if people were going to understand, but they did. Everyone needs to know this story" (Rico).