More Than a Dance-What It Takes To Be a Hula Champion

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Hula is a dance of illusions. Behind the grace and the sway there is grit, athleticism, and a knee-breaking, blister-inducing effort to leave everything you have on the dance floor.

Every year, the best compete at the Merrie Monarch Festival, the world’s most prestigious hula competition. Kayli Ka’iulani Carr, who is in her last year of eligibility for the contest, is trying to win the festival’s solo competition, Miss Aloha Hula. Does she have what it takes?

There are many sub-styles of hula, with the main two categories being Hula ‘Auana and Hula Kahiko. Ancient hula, as performed before Western encounters with Hawaiʻi, is called kahiko.

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Hula dancing is a complex art form, and there are many hand motions used to represent the words in a song or chant. For example, hand movements can signify aspects of nature, such as the swaying of a tree in the breeze or a wave in the ocean, or a feeling or emotion, such as fondness or yearning.

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