A great resource for students of traditional Hawaiian dance, this beautiful handbook filled with archival photographs covers the origins, language, etiquette, ceremonies, and the spiritual culture of hula. Hula, the indigenous dance of Hawai’i, preserves significant aspects of Native Hawaiian culture with strong ties to health and spirituality. Kumu Hula, persons who are culturally recognized hula experts and educators, maintain and share this cultural tradition, conveying Hawaiian history and spiritual beliefs in this unique form of cultural and creative expression, comprising specific controlled rhythmic movements that enhance the meaning and poetry of the accompanying songs.
Emphasizing the importance of cultural literacy, the Handbook begins with an overview of the origins of hula, its history in Hawai’i, and the primacy of the spiritual focus of the dance. The book goes on to introduce halau etiquette and practices, and explains the format of a traditional hula presentation, together with the genres of hula and the regalia worn by the dancers. Practical components include sections on Hawaiian language and chant and a glossary of hula commands and footwork.
Author Mahealani Uchiyama trained in Hawaii in the hula lineage of Joseph Kamoha’i Kaha’ulelio and is currently the Kumu Hula at the Halau Ku Ua Tuahine in Berkeley, California. As the founder and artistic director of the Center for International Dance and board member of Dance Arts West, the producers of San Francisco’s annual Ethnic Dance Festival, Uchiyama’s approach to hula is deeply holistic and reflects her background in indigenous wisdom traditions and cultural exchange and interaction.