Different Types of Hula

Source: Pukui, Mary Kawena & Elbert, Samuel H., HAWAIIAN DICTIONARY,
University of Hawai`i Press, Honolulu, 1986.
Pronunciation Guide

[hoo lah]

the hula, the indigenous dances of Hawai`i; a hula dancer; to dance the hula

>> Hula, Hawai`i's Art and Soul

hula `âla`apapa
[hoo' lah AH' lah ah pah pah]

type of ancient dramatic hula

>> Kumu hula, `Auli`i Mitchell discusses hula `âla`apapa
>> Sacred Hula, Amy Ku`uleialoha Stillman

hula hue
[hoo' lah hoo'(w)eh]

type of hula dancing used to conclude a program, a kind of `ai `ami with a revolving of the hips as fast as the drummer can beat time, to see who can dance the longest; to dance thus

hue = quick, move fast

hula `auana
[hoo' lah au' (w)ah nah]

modern-day hula; informal hula without ceremony or offering, in contrast to hula kuahu; modern hula

Around the turn of the century, hula began to evolve from the hula kahiko into a less formal style, the hula 'auana. In hula 'auana, dancers interact more closely with the audience. A story is still told, but with the accompaniment of singing, sometimes in falsetto, and the playing of stringed instruments such as the guitar, bass and `ukulele.

>> Video clips of the hula `auana

`auana = wandering, drifting; it does not mean "modern"

hula hapa haole
[hoo' lah
hah' pah hao' leh]

westernized hula, usually accompanied by English words

hapa = part
haole = Caucasian, foreign

>> Hilo Hattie does the Hilo Hop

hula holoholona
[hoo' lah
hoh' loh hoh loh' nah]

hulas were named for holoholona (animals, beast, insect); many are family `aumâkua. In these dances, the dancer imitates the motions of:

  • honu (turtle)
  • `îlio (dog)
  • kôlea (plover), a kneeling hula
  • manô (shark), a sitting hula
  • pe`epe`emakawalu (spider), with stiff legs, dancers hopped, right foot forward and left in reverse; then opposite, keeping time with a boisterous chant and with hands fluttering vigorously
  • pua`a (pig), with swaying hips from side to side in imitation of a fat pig’s waddling.

hula ho`onânâ
[hoo' lah
hoh' oh NAH' NAH']

any hula for amusement

ho`onânâ = to cause to look

[hoo' lah hoo' lah ]

ballroom dancing with partners, American dancing; massed hula dancing; to dance; play in which many dance and sing, and few drum and sing.

hula kahiko
[hoo' lah kah hee' koh]

ancient hula

This older style of hula is performed to mele (chants) accompanied by percussion instruments. Dances often depict the Hawaiian legends, the exploits of past royalty, and the beauty of nature.

kahiko = ancient, old

>> Photo of a kahiko performance

hula o Kalâkaua
[hoo' lah oh kah LAH' kau (w)ah]



various hula performed for King Kalâkaua’s coronation:

  • hula lâ`au pili (stick dances)
  • hula nemanema (to belittle, criticize)
  • hula `ôlepelepe (shingles, Venetian blinds, shutters)

hula ki`i
[hoo' lah kee' ee]

dance of the images in which the dancers posture stiffly like ki`i (petroglyphs, images); to thus thus; also, a dance using marionnettes

>> Ki`i (Hula Puppet), Bishop Museum
>> Kumu hula, `Auli`i Mitchell discusses hula ki`i

hula kolili
[hoo' lah koh lee' lee]

a dance with love forfeits, similar to those in kilu, a "spin the bottle" kind of game for chiefs, and `ume, for the commoners.

kolili = to flutter

hula kuahu
[hoo' lah koo (w)ah' hoo]

formal hula; any hula taught with ceremonies and a kuahu, in contrast to hula `auana

kuahu = altar

hula kuhi lima
[hoo' lah koo' hee lee' mah]

sitting hula with gestures of hands and swaying of torso

kuhi = to point, gesture
lima = hand

hula mea pa`ahana / pila

[hoo' lah meh (y)ah pah' ah hah' nah / pee' lah]

various hula named for implements / instruments:

  • hula `ili`ili (pebble dance)
  • hula kâ`eke`eke (bamboo pipe dance)
  • hula kâla`au (stick dance)
  • hula pahu (drum dance)
  • hula pâ ipu (gourd dance)
  • hula papa hehi (treadle board dance), originated on Ni`ihau
  • hula pû`ili (slivered bamboo sticks dance)
  • hula `ulî`ulî (gourd rattle dance)

>> Hula Implements
>> Hula Instruments

hula ku`i Moloka`i
[hoo' lah koo' ee moh' loh kah' ee]

the ku`i (punch) dance of Moloka`i, an island famous for sports.

An ancient fast dance with stamping, heel twisting, thigh slapping, dipping of knees, and fist doubling as in boxing, vigorous gestures of such pursuits as dragging fish nets, and unaccompanied by instruments. Many songs contain taunts, as a la`a kô kû i ke a`u (now you are jabbed by the swordfish).

hula kuolo
[hoo' lah koo (w)oh' loh]

sitting chant dance; the dancer beats the ipu (gourd) and chants

kuolo = to resonate, tremble, vibrate as a chanting voice

hula mânai
[hoo' lah MAH' nai]

dance with a thin flexible stick with which the squatting dancer beats time as by striking the floor

mânai = needle for stringing leis, formerly of coconut midrib, now of wire

hula mu`umu`u
[hoo' lah moo' oo moo' oo]

a sitting dance

mu`u mu`u = a person with arms or legs missing, an amputee

hula `ôhelo
[hoo' lah OH' heh loh]

dance in which the dancer leans over on one side, supporting self with one hand, and with the opposite hand and arm makes a sawing motion; many of these dances have sexual import.

`ôhelo = indigenous red berries

hula `ôlapa
[hoo' lah OH' lah pah]

any dance accompanied by chanting and drumming on a gourd drum

hula Pahua
[hoo' lah PAH' hoo (w)ah]

a kind of fast hula that increases to a frenzy, said to have been named originally for a mele ma`i (genital chant or song) named Pahua (shoved); spear dance.

hula pâ`iumauma
[hoo' lah PAH' ee'(y)oo mau mah]

chest-slapping hula

hula Pele
[hoo' lah peh' leh]

sacred dance in honor of the fire / volcano goddess Pele

hula ki`elei [hoo' lah kee eh lei']

hula performed with the dancer squatted on haunches

ki`elei = to squat

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