Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hula in Hawaiian Sunset

The Hawaiian paradise experience is not complete without watching its Hula shows. And what a memorable experience is to watch this kind of Hawaiian cultural activity at sunset time by the world’s famous beach of Waikiki. Every moment, scene and ambiance is a paradise setting. The scenic sunset by the beach is timeless while the hues it reflects are delightful to watch. Moreover, the palms trees almost sway to the sound of the islands produced by the Hula musicians. My ears are in delight to hear the soothing and light music of the Hula. Even my feet want to dance when the beat shifts to a fast-paced Hawaiian island beat. It was a wonderful way to end a day in Hawaii.

Sunset has always been my favorite scenic view by the beach as this moment of day to night phenomenon is dramatic, stunning and spectacular. A beautiful moment of the day to witness this stunning view. Nevertheless, Hawaiian sunset is not an exception for a sunset to remember. The best view to see it is by the shore of Waikiki Beach, where visitors flocked by 5:30 pm to 7pm to witness this beautiful phenomenon. It is simply stunning… beautiful… and breathtaking.

The beauty of Hawaii is shinning through...

It was 5pm when we arrived in Waikiki Beach from Fort deRussy Park. It was just a perfect time to view the sunset. Beach-goers still flocked Waikiki, swimming and strolling around. But most visitors are there to witness the most beautiful phenomenon of the day in Hawaii – sunset. Everyone was waiting for that stunning moment. Like the other visitors, I capture shots of the Hawaiian sunset. It was a beautiful glow of yellow, amber and orange perfectly blended to the tropical paradise setting of Waikiki. I am in awe with everyone as we watched the stunning sunset by the beach. My eyes did not stop looking until the sun disappears from the ocean. It is one unforgettable sunset viewing I have experienced. Much more experience in a true paradise on Earth.

Just in time after the sunset, people flocking the Waikiki Beach were now gathering at Kuhio Beach Hula Mound to watch the free Hula show. I already saw the scheduled free Hula show in Kuhio Beach Hula Mound on the tour brochures I picked up in the airport. And we really make sure not to miss it as this is one activity that shouldn’t be missed when you visit Hawaii. Hula is a popular native dance in Hawaii accompanied by its native songs. Hula shows is a unique activity in Hawaii as it showcases its culture in the way of music, sound and dance. Hula shows is also being offered to most hotels in Hawaii as an exclusive show but it is quite expensive and some do not allow picture taking.
Transition and different shots of Hawaiian sunset.

The following are information about Hula.
Hula is a dance form accompanied by chant or song. It was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there. The chant or song is called a mele. The hula dramatizes or comments on the mele.

There are many styles of hula. They are commonly divided into two broad categories: Ancient hula, as performed before Western encounters with Hawai’i, is called kahiko. It is accompanied by chant and traditional instruments. Hula as it evolved under Western influence, in the 19th and 20th centuries, is called ‘auana. It is accompanied by song and Western-influenced musical instruments such as the guitar, the ‘ukulele, and the double bass.

The stunning Hawaiian sunset

Hula is taught in schools called hālau. The teacher of hula is the kumu hula, where kumu means source of knowledge. Hula dancing is a complex art form, and there are many hand motions used to signify aspects of nature, such as the basic Hula and Coconut Tree motions, or the basic leg steps, such as the Kaholo, Ka'o, and Ami. Hula is performed at luau (Hawaiian parties) and celebrations. Hula lessons are common for girls from ages 6–12 and, just like another kind of dance they have recitals and perform at luau.

Legendary origins
There are various legends surrounding the origins of hula. According to one Hawaiian legend Laka, goddess of the hula, gave birth to the dance on the island of Moloka’i, at a sacred place in Ka’ana. After Laka died, her remains were hidden beneath the hill Pu’u Nana.

Another story tells of Hi’iaka, who danced to appease her fiery sister, the volcano goddess Pele. This story locates the source of the hula on Hawai’i, in the Puna district at the Hā’ena shoreline. The ancient hula Ke Ha’a Ala Puna describes this event.

Another story is when Pele, the goddess of fire was trying to find a home for herself running away from her sister Namakaokaha'i (the goddess of the oceans) when she finally found an island where she couldn't be touched by the waves. There at chain of craters on the island of Hawai'i she danced the first dance of hula signifying that she finally won.

One story is that Pele asked Laka to amuse her because Pele was bored. So right away Laka got up and began to move gracefully, acting out silently events they both knew. Pele enjoyed this and was fascinated thus Hula was born. (Source)

The Hula show at Kuhio Beach Hula Mound

Its time for the audience to try Hula...
Watching the Hula show, I remember Iolani Luahine from Hawaiian Hilton Village. She is one of the known teacher and personality in the art of Hula in Hawaii. Here’s an interesting information about her. Iolani Luahine (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1978), born Harriet Lanihau Makekau, was a native Hawaiian kumu hula, dancer, chanter, and teacher, who was considered the high priestess of the ancient hula. The New York Times wrote that she was "regarded as Hawaii's last great exponent of the sacred hula ceremony," and the Honolulu Advertiser wrote: "In her ancient dances, she was the poet of the Hawaiian people." The 'Iolani Luahine Hula Festival was established in her memory, and awards a scholarship award each year to encourage a student to continue the study of hula. In 1997, a statue of Luahine (sculpted by Kim Duffet) was dedicated at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where Luahine performed in the 1950s (More about Iolani Luahine here)

Watching the Hula show.

I thought that Hula was just a simple interpretative dance. But as the performers explained, it is being taught with a proper guide and ritual. I thought that every move and hand gestures were just simple steps. But as I watch it closely and live, the simple movement and gestures is full of grace and beat timing. Especially the girl who performed in the Hula show, she was so graceful in her every move. Everyone in the audience was in awe especially when she did a slow dance. But do not be deceived that Hula is just danced by female. Male can also do Hula. But of course with a different steps and move and not the typical slow and graceful movement of the stereotypical Hula girl we know. Both performers were native Hawaiians and I observed they have a similarity to Filipino physical features.

The show ran for an hour and all the audiences were turning into crowds at the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound. Most of the audiences were visitors in Hawaii like us. After a series of shows from both male and female performers, they ended the show by inviting first time visitors in Hawaii to go on the stage and try Hula. My sister and my mom were pushing me try it but I did not try (They are second time visitors already). I felt shy to do Hula in front of the crowd so I just watch the visitors who dare to try the Hula onstage. They were fun to watch as some were really having a hard time doing the dance especially the slow one. The male and female Hula performers taught them the move and steps and practice one routine. After a few practice and briefing the first time visitors together with the performers dance a full routine of Hula in front of the audience. It was fun when they ended it on their back a made a slow left and right move of their butt.

No Hula show is great than performed by native Hawaiians.

First time visitors of Hawaii try their moves in Hula.

Souvenir shot with the Hula girl.

The Hula show ended with a pictorial with the performers.  The audience flocked them including us to have souvenir shots with the Hula performers. I am satisfied with the free Hula show. It was a showcase of culture in a spectacular show by the beach. It is a great way to discover the rich heritage and culture of the islands of Hawaii.

*Free Hula shows in Kuhio Beach Hula Mound is every Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 6:30pm to 7:30pm.

Hula in Hawaiian Sunset is part of my Aloha to Hawaii's Paradise series where I my share travel story to Honolulu, Hawaii last August 24-29, 2010. To continue reading, read part 4 - A Taste of Hawaii. Some photos credited to users.

You might also be interested in reading the other parts of the series.     


    1. wow nice sharing about ur travel in hawaii Ian..thanks fos sharing these wonderful images!


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