In its authentic form, HULA is the most powerful expression of indigenous Hawaiian culture that exists. The chants that give meaning to the dance and music are, in essence, the oral history of Hawai‘i’s native people.
Passed down from one kumu hula (hula teacher) to another, the stories have survived Western contact, early missionary censure, U.S. takeover and statehood. King David Kalakaua, who came to the throne in 1874, is credited with reviving hula after it had been declared illegal at the insistence of Christian missionaries. But it was not until nearly a century later that hula, in all its forms, exploded on the islands. MERRIE MONARCH FESTIVAL, a sort of hula Olympics named in honor of King Kalakaua, was established on Hawai‘i Island in 1963.
NOTE: at press time, the Kuhio Beach Torchlighting and Hula Show was temporarily suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions. Visit waikikiimprovement.com for updates.