Hula 'Auana vs. Hula Kahiko

In the year 1893, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown, marking the divergence of two styles of traditional hula. Both forms of the dance, the ancient Hula Kahiko and the modern Hula 'Auana, are choreographed to interpret a poetic text called mele. Although the two dances are both a form of hula, Hawaii's most popular art form, the two dances have many differences.
The older, more indigenous form of hula, Hula Kahiko, is danced to chants in Hawaiian, which tunes tend to not be too melodious. The instruments are older indigenous percussive pieces,drums such as a ipu heke (a double gourd) and hula pahu (drum made of sharkskin and the trunk of a coconut). The hand motions describe the story which is told by the chants, and are simple, vigorous gestures. The feet in this form of hula are also very simple, basic movements, and facial expressions are more ritualistic.
The modern form of hula, called Hula'Auana, is the transformation of hula into general entertainment due to the huge rise in tourism. Hula'Auana is in general a more "flowing" form of the dance, as compared to Hula Kahiko, the more stiff form. This modern form is danced not to chants, but to more lighthearted songs sung in either Hawaiian or English, which have a much more melodious tune than the chants.. The instruments are stringed instruments such as'ukuleles and guitars. The hand gestures are embellished and tend to look more like swaying movements than precise formations. Feet movements are not only limited to simple steps but unrestricted, and facial expressions are more animated and dramatic according to the context of the song.
Although both forms of this dance are very beautiful to watch, if I had to chose one to watch, I would chose Hula Kahiko, the older more traditional form. I have visited Hawaii a few times and each visit many Luaus offer shows with the modernized hula form Hula'Auana, and it is hard …


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