Part of the fun of attending a luau in Hawaii is watching the hula performed. This traditional Polynesian dance form adds to the festivities of the luau feast. In ancient times in Hawaii, the hula was a part of the island’s religion. Therefore, ritual played a key role in the creation of this dance. Ancient dancers, most of whom were men, learned hundreds of stylized movements, many of which survive today.
A Lively Form of Dance
At luaus, the kahiko hula in Honolulu is a lively form of dance. Performers who dance this dance must be agile and strong. Originally, the dance was performed to chants instead of music. The dance is accompanied by pahu or variously sized drums.
The Accompanying Music
So, when you see a kahiko hula performed at a luau, you are seeing a part of Hawaiian culture and history. Some of the pahus that are used for the accompaniment are as small as the shells of coconuts while others are decoratively carved from larger tree trunks. The larger drums are considered so important that some of them are given names.
In addition, some of the percussion instruments that were formerly associated with the kahiko hula are used in the modern dance form. These instruments usually include ipu (hollowed gourds), puili (bamboo rattles), and uliuli, (feathered gourd rattles).
Some dancers who perform the kahiko hula also use iliili, which are small flat rocks. The rocks are used similarly to castanets. Dancers may also use sticks, weapons, or other kinds of implements, all related to the story they are trying to tell through dance.
To perform this Hawaiian dance form, a man would wear a malo, which was a kind of breech cloth, or wear a skirt as the women did. Some of the adornments included headbands, lei garlands, wristlets, or anklets woven from greenery and leaves. The grass skirts that are used for performing are made from green ti leaves. You can learn more about the luau and this particular dance form by visiting such websites as Germainesluau.com.