Hula is a native Hawaiian dance. In this video from the National Geographic Channel, dancers and historians explain the origins and development of hula.
- Birth of the Hula (start-0:45)
- Hula is Banned (0:46-1:10)
- Rebirth of Hula (1:11-1:45)
- Making Hula Relevant to a Modern Audience (1:46-2:08)
- Merrie Monarch Festival (2:09-2:50)
Hula? Halau? Haumana? Huh? Use our “Vocabulary” tab to help sort out your mele from your macadamia nuts!
The following tabs offer suggestions for using this video as a learning tool.
Use “Fast Facts” to understand the history of hula.
Use “Questions” to help students develop a greater appreciation of this important part of Hawaiian culture.
Use “Vocabulary” to identify language associated with hula.
- Hula master Kumano Palani Kuala encourages his students to make a connection between hula and indigenous spirituality. (1:48) Ancient Hawaiians also held hula sacred. The traditional goddess of the hula is Laka, and many ancient hulas were performed in her honor.
The video spotlights the Merrie Monarch Festival, which honors a legendary king who returned hula to “its rightful place at the center of Hawaiian culture.” (2:20) This was King David Kalakaua, who encouraged a revival of many Hawaiian cultural traditions, including surfing and the martial art of lua, during his reign from 1874-1891. King David Kalakaua’s nickname was “the merry (or merrie) monarch.”
- Hula instructor Emily Kau’i Zuttermeister tells a story about the birth of hula. (0:30) The woman Zuttermeister mentions, who went down to the beach and imitated the motion of the waves, was Hi’iaka. Hi’iaka was no ordinary woman—she was the sister of Hawaii’s legendary fire goddess, Pele. Hi’iaka is the goddess of the stormy clouds produced by her sister’s volcanoes.
modern style of hula, which developed with the influence of European culture in Hawaii during the 19th and 20th centuries.
hula school, or a long house traditionally used for hula instruction.
native Hawaiian dance, often accompanied by drumming or chanting.
smooth stones that are clicked together in traditional Hawaiian dancing.
hollowed-out gourd used for traditional Hawaiian dancing.
two hollowed-out gourds, one secured on top of the other, used for traditional Hawaiian chanting.
ancient style of hula, which developed in the Hawaiian Islands before European contact in the 19th century.
wooden sticks used for traditional Hawaiian dancing.
cloth made by pounding the bark of a paper mulberry or similar tree until it is flat and flexible.
native Hawaiian necklace of flowers, shells, feathers, or leaves.
edible, round, hard-shelled seed of the tropical macadamia tree, native to Australia.
traditional loincloth, or fabric draped around the hips, worn by Hawaiian men.
traditional Hawaiian song.
expert hula dancers.
traditional Hawaiian chant.
traditional Hawaiian wrapped skirt.
island group in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand, Hawaii, and Easter Island.
bamboo sticks used in hula and traditional Hawaiian chant performances.
adjective, plural noun
gourds filled with seeds and topped with feathers. Used for traditional Hawaiian dances.