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Exploring Hawaii’s History of Dance

January 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Posted By Phineas Upham

To Hawaiians, dance is as much a celebration of life as it is a physical activity. Dance is like a statement of identity, and it has served as a function for the indigenous people to tell their history.

Hula

Hula was used in ancient Hawaii to pass along the stories and legends of Hawaiian culture. Dancers underwent rigorous training for years to learn the art form. Traditional Hula dances incorporate chants that orate the history being explored in the dance. Dances also serve to show customs, ceremonies and traditions of the people of ancient Hawaii.

Kapa

Village women would fashion traditional garb out of bark cloth that was known as kapa. This difficult task used the inner bark of certain trees as weaving material for skirts and other garments.

Kapa’s would be colored and given designs when they were finished. Native islanders relied on berries and roots to dye the fabric in blue or black. Hawaiians would soak kappa in kukui nut oil to give it some primitive weather protection, and sweet smelling things would help give the cloth some natural scents.

Lei

The presence of lei signifies special events, but the presentation signifies the act of sharing. Leis are also used in formal ceremonies, like a wedding, where Jasmine and other sweet-smelling flowers may symbolize love and courtship.


Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or LinkedIn page.

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