Out in the Hawaiian Islands, the Hula is recognized as an expression of life and love, of the stars and seasons, it is a dance of worship. It was danced to the Shark Goddess and the gods of Wind and Fire as well as the chieftains. This ancient ritual is only danced by the young. The thump of the drum, the rattle of the gourd and the sound of the surf in the distance, the light of the Kukui torches all add to the flavor of this dance. The Hula is a dance form accompanied by chant (oli) or song (mele). It was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there.
The hula dramatizes or portrays the words of the oli or mele in a visual dance form. There are many sub-styles of hula, with the main two categories being Hula 'Auana (modern or Western influence) and Hula Kahiko (Ancient or prior to 1893). There are also two main positions of a hula dance. One is sitting (called the noho dance) or standing (called the luna dance). Some styles do utilize both forms.
This dance tradition includes the hand extended at shoulder height, the head bowed, one bare foot placed at a right angle to the others instep. The "Lehua" flowers adorn the hair, while the "leis" (flowers strung together) hang around the shoulders. From the waist hang "Ti
leaves", partly revealing the hips, legs and knees. They sing to the music as they sway to the rhythm. Often times the hula is called Hawaiian dancing. This dance is a story told with the hands as well as the body. The Hawaiians invented (some say the Portuguese) the Ukulele from the Portuguese guitar in 1879 with the Kings (Kalakaua) help, this instrument became a Hawaiian tradition.
The Hula had lapsed for a time due to Missionary influence, however it was not lost due to the secret dancing rituals. The hula is said to have originated with the beginning of time, when the race sprung from the gods.
It's Origin or Hawaiian Legend: There are various legends surrounding the origins of hula.
1) Laka, goddess of the hula, gave birth to the dance on the island of Molokaʻi, at a sacred place in Kaʻana. After Laka died, her remains were hidden beneath the hill Puʻu Nana
2) Hiʻiaka, who danced to appease her fiery sister, the volcano goddess Pele. This story locates the source of the hula on Hawaii, in the Puna district at the Hāʻena shoreline. The ancient hula Ke Haʻa Ala Puna describes this event.
3) Pele, the goddess of fire was trying to find a home for herself running away from her sister Namakaokaha'i (goddess of the oceans) when she finally found an island where she couldn't be touched by the waves. There at chain of craters on the island of Hawaii she danced the first dance of hula signifying that she finally won.
4) Pele asked Laka to amuse her because Pele was bored. So right away Laka got up and began to move gracefully, acting out silently events they both knew. Pele enjoyed this and was fascinated thus Hula was born.
Don Wallace is said to have refined the nightclub Hula (Hukilau) into the ballroom Hula in 1949. The Night Club Hula, which became popular in the movies in the 1910's and 20's such as the "South Sea Hula" with Gilda Gray. It is basically a wiggle, a straw skirt, a blatant rhythm, a file of bushy-haired girls with paper leis waving their hands and shaking the hips. This version hardly resembles the original hula of the Hawaiian islands.