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Hula Dancing

All of the Arts & Culture cards depict actual Polynesian accomplishments. I will start with the three cards shown in the "sneak peek", so today we look at Hula Dancing.

Hula is a way of taking what is thought and what is seen into a movement, and accepting all of these as a way of keeping a history, and of retelling stories. It is remembering kings and accomplishments, births and deaths, the famous and the infamous. Each island group has its own version (and its own name) for the dance.

Hula has always been a focal point of Hawaiian culture. The hula reflects many of the central ideas and events of Hawaiian history. Before European contact, men and women were members of separate halau hula (hula schools) that taught young dancers and performed for special occasions. Under the strict guidance of kumu (teachers), 'olapa (students) learned to perform dances depicting the legends of Hawai'i, the exploits of past kings and the beauty of the islands. It is performed to mele (chants) accompanied by percussion instruments.

When missionaries arrived in Hawai'i in the early 1820s, they disapproved of what they considered the "licentious" nature of hula and its ties to ancient gods. They virtually banned it from public performance for at least fifty years. Fortunately, some of Hawaii's monarchs saw that hula was integral to a Hawaiian sense of pride and identity. As a public declaration, King Kalakaua invited dancers from around the islands to perform at his coronation in 1883.

The dance is called hura in Rarotonga (the Cook Islands). They are famous throughout the Pacific for their "sensual and fierce" style. To this day, they come away with the most trophies at international hula competitions. Thus, in Conquest of Paradise, the player who controls Rarotonga gets a bonus victory point if he also has the Hula Dancing card.


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