Hula Kahiko –
the dance and the clothes

Hula dancing connects people of all ages. It is movement, prayer and art. The dancers move fluidly, naturally and gracefully. The feet dance rhythmically while the hands and arms tell stories of miraculous events, goddesses and sacred places.

Hula Hula or Hula Hoop know many. That with Hula a dance style of the Pacific islands is associated, is rather a rarity. In Hawaii there are two main styles of hula, hula kahiko and hula auana. Simply translated, one could say that Hula Auana is the modern Hula and Hula Kahiko is the traditional one. The Hula Kahiko is a special traditional form of expression, a connection to the ancient tradition of the islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The values and history that live on in this form of expression usually remain hidden from the audience. The translations we find from the Hawaiian language into English is mostly very spartan. Only a few Hula teachers share this unique knowledge.

Traditional hula teachers, also called Kumu Hula, often tell life wisdom that is passed on in the stories. Tributes to powerful or beloved people, kings and queens. When I listen to my teacher, I often feel the old tradition, the connection to the past. It is a stream of knowledge that is passed down.

“Everyone is one leaf of one big hula skirt”

– Puna Kalama Dawson

Symbolically, the connection to Kumu Hula is also represented by the clothing.
A Ti Leaf skirt is made before a traditional ritual hula event. After cutting the leaves are washed, dried, flattened and then ready for further processing.

While tying my first pa’u, tears ran down my face full of sadness, happiness and touch.

Traditionally, making a Ti Leaf Pa’u is a celebration of life.

You need between 50 to 70 leaves, all individually tied to a ribbon.

As you can see in the pictures, each leaf is folded over and knotted individually. It took a day for each to finish their pa’u. It is quite an elaborate process.
All the more sublime then is the feeling of wearing a homemade skirt made of fresh leaves, which smell good to boot! The skirt is relatively heavy, the leaves fly at every turn and make a lot of wind and sound – a wonderful feeling to dance in it!

Traditional hula clothing

The “Open hands for Peace” Celebration 2010 took place on Kauai with about 80 dancers from different nations. The initiator and Kumu Hula Puna Kalama Dawson created for Europeans and Japanese as well as your Halau on Kauai, Ohana and friends a 10-day journey of discovery into the world of hula dance.

Here you see us with the finished Ti leaf skirts
The second from the left is me, Margarete Bundschu


I am glad to meet you