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December 24, 2021

Beautiful Photos of Ladies in Hula Dance Outfits in the Mid-20th Century

Hula is a Polynesian dance form accompanied by chant (Oli) or song (Mele, which is a cognate of “meke” from the Fijian language). It was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there. The hula dramatizes or portrays the words of the oli or mele in a visual dance form.

There are many sub-styles of hula, with the main two categories being Hula ʻAuana and Hula Kahiko. Ancient hula, as performed before Western encounters with Hawaiʻi, is called kahiko. It is accompanied by chant and traditional instruments. Hula, as it evolved under Western influence in the 19th and 20th centuries, is called ʻauana (a word that means “to wander” or “drift”). It is accompanied by song and Western-influenced musical instruments such as the guitar, the ʻukulele, and the double bass.

Terminology for two main additional categories is beginning to enter the hula lexicon: “Monarchy” includes any hula which were composed and choreographed during the 19th century. During that time the influx of Western culture created significant changes in the formal Hawaiian arts, including hula. “Ai Kahiko”, meaning “in the ancient style” are those hula written in the 20th and 21st centuries that follow the stylistic protocols of the ancient hula kahiko.

There are also two main positions of a hula dance: either sitting (noho dance) or standing (luna dance). Some dances utilize both forms. These beautiful color photos captured portraits of ladies in hula dance outfits in the 1940s and 1950s.
























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