Enjoy a Kauai Hula Show

By Hawaii.com Team

Coconut Beach Luau, Kauai. Photo: Donna S.

Long before statehood in 1959, the grass-skirted hula dancer, hips swaying, hands persuading, had emerged the pop symbol of the Islands. Popularized by Hollywood, the ancient Hawaiian dance form was minimized and synthesized and brought to the Silver Screen by stars like Clara Bow, Shirley Temple, Dorothy Lamour and even Minnie Mouse.

Hollywood barely skimmed the surface. In its authentic form, hula is the most powerful expression of indigenous Hawaiian culture that exists.

The chants that give reason to the dance and the music are, in essence, the oral history of Hawaii’s native people. Passed down from one kumu hula (teacher) to another, the stories have survived Western contact, early missionary censure, U.S. take over and statehood. King David Kalakaua, who came to the throne in 1874, is credited with reviving the hula after it had been declared illegal at the insistence of Christian missionaries. But it was not until the 1970s and the beginning of the Hawaiian renaissance that hula in all its forms seriously exploded in the islands.

Hula is divided into two general categories-Kahiko (ancient) and ‘Auana (contemporary). Hula Kahiko is typically performed with percussion instruments, sticks and some wind instruments. Hula ‘Auana is usually performed with ukuleles, acoustic and steel guitars and bass.

The Merrie Monarch Festival, named for King Kalakaua, was established on the Big Island in 1971 as a showcase for both ancient and modern hula. Scores of festivals and competitions have followed, both here and on the Mainland. Hula halaus (schools) attract dancers from both genders and all ethnic backgrounds. For the serious dancer, hula is a long and intense commitment, not at all a reflection of Hollywood’s cellophane picture.

On Kauai, you can see free hula shows most any day of the week. The Radisson Kauai Beach Resort in Wailua stages a torchlighting ceremony and hula show each evening at 6 p.m.

The Poipu Shopping Village also offers Polynesian entertainment at 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Hyatt Regency in Poipu features free hula shows every Tuesday and Saturday at 7 p.m. The Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club in Lihu’e stages a torchlighting ceremony at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. The Princeville Hotel showcases hula and chanting during a free ceremony in the main lobby at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. And the Harbor Mall in Nawiliwili across from the Marriott features hula with Auntie Bev and her halau every Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. If you’re on island Saturday, Feb. 4, you can catch a full-on hula performance featuring local dancers and guest performers, the Makaha Sons. The dancers are under the direction of kumu hula Leilani Rivera Bond. The Makaha Sons, recording artists known for their slack key guitar playing and vocal harmonies, are well known in the islands. The show, beginning at 7 p.m., will be held at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihu’e.

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