What makes this form of hula different?
The dancers move as one on stage, floating from one movement to the next in a ghostly levitation. The hotel hulas I’ve seen look like a series of individual poses. Strangely, the hula competition itself wasn’t the highlight for the dancers at the event. They seemed more motivated by the happenings afterward, dancing at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to pay their respects to Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. They danced through the rain and bursts of sunshine that seem scripted to their movements. If you happened to be in the park that day, you could witness it all.
Any tips for travelers who want to see real hula for themselves?
Get tickets to the Merrie Monarch Festival, which is held April 8-14, 2012. Also, check out what my new friend and freelance writer Lynn Cook offers on hula, and the halau that I followed (here). There’s a lot to appreciate about this tradition that goes far beyond the hula we think we know.