Wednesday, March 4, 2015

hula responses

Yesterday we watched a video selection on the culture and history of kahiko hula (a short segment from the immensely useful PBS series "Dancing"). Afterwards I asked students to write in their journals some observations, and to think especially about how what they have seen, heard, and learned over the past week and a half might change how they think about Hawai’ian dance. Here are a few things they said:

“I always thought Hawai’ian dance was just for fun but it’s so much more than that. It tells a story about Hawai’I and their culture.”

“I always thought hula was just dancing with your hips to beats. I never knew it told a story.”

“Before, I had thought that hula was a new, modern dance – I didn’t know it had been a dance form for years.”

“While they’re dancing, they sing the song, they do it powerfully and they sing very loud. I had thought hula was silent and graceful. Now I know it is a part of their life and very important to them.”

“I understand more about why these dances are so sacred to their culture, and why the land is so precious to them.”

“It does surprise me how most of the dances are dedicated to nature. Maybe that is why Hawai’I is so clean and beautiful.”

“I saw the dancers dancing for the volcano, I heard that when the lava dries up it creates new land. I learned that kahiko hula has valuable meaning behind the dance steps, describing nature.”

“It was sad to hear that when the missionaries came, they forced the Hawai’ian culture out and made it seem like what they knew and what their ancestors knew and believed were all bad.”

“The speaker mentioned that foreigners would come to the island and try to change the culture – they were disrespecting the ancestors by doing that because it was saying they could go to hell with their culture. Cultural oppression.”

I feel fortunate to have so many students who are so engaged with our material...

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