As much as “iconic” is a somewhat overused term these days, I think we can agree that the hula dancer is the iconic image of Hawaii.
Admit it: when I first said I’d be spending this month talking about Hawaii, an image of a hula dancer probably popped into your head.
And for me, as for you, hula IS Hawaii, and vice versa. This part of Hawaiian life is so big, so personal, so meaningful for me that I scarcely know where to begin.
Here’s my experience with hula in a nutshell: I started taking hula lessons when I was four years old. Over 50 years later, I still do. In between, I’ve learned and performed dozens, maybe hundreds, of dances, watched countless performances, danced in hula competitions, missed it something awful while living on the mainland, passed on my love of the dance to my daughter.
So I guess you could say that hula has been and is a big part of my life. I love everything about it: the sweet melodies of the songs I’ve danced to, the charming poetry of the lyrics, the unique and sometimes challenging footwork of the steps, the graceful hand motions that tell the story, the subtle but eloquent facial expressions — all of which, taken together, make for a truly unique art form.
I plan to post some more about hula performances and competitions in the islands as we go through this month, to give you an idea of the significance of the dance in our lives here. I myself don’t perform anymore, and my competition days are long since behind me.
But tomorrow night I’ll join my hula brothers and sisters, as I do every Wednesday, at our hula class and — for the sheer joy of it — we’ll dance to our old favorites. Because hula is a part of me, and I don’t ever want to stop dancing.
This is the second post in my series, 31 Days of Life in my Hawaii. Click here to get the links to the other posts in the series.