Just as you would dress accordingly for the weather, a Hula Dancer dresses accordingly for the type of song he or she performs. Costumes are an immense part of preparing for any performance. Just as a dancer’s hands and expressions tell a story, a costume is supposed to enhance that story, and help bring it to life. Costumes range from traditional hula skirts to elegant dresses, to brightly colored cellophane skirts.
Hula Kahiko: The Hula Kahiko is the traditional style of dance. Originally, only men would perform the Hula, but today both men and women enjoy dancing. Kahiko is performed to chants instead of music. The chants are usually accompanied by a pahu (drum) or an ipu (hollowed gourd) to keep the rhythm. Men often wear a malo (loincloth) while performing Hula Kahiko while women typically wear voluminous skirts. The Hula Kahiko is a very powerful dance that requires strength and discipline from the dancer. The chants often speak about Hawaiian legends and gods. Kahiko adornments are made from foliage and are typically worn around a dancer’s head, neck, wrists, and ankles.
Hula `Auana: The Hula `Auana the modern style of dance performed by both men and women. The mele (songs) are accompanied by musical instruments such as `ukuleles and guitars. Men wear aloha shirts with slacks, or may go shirtless. The women wear gorgeous, long flowing dresses or t-leaf skirts. Hula `Auana dancers will be adorned with beautiful flowers in their hair and around their neck. This particular style of dancing is soft and graceful. Through the art of Hula `Auana, the dancer is able to tell an entire story through the use of his/her hands.
Hapa Haole: Hapa Haole Hula is a form of entertainment that became popular in the 1940’s. The songs are sung in English and accompanied by modern instruments. Hapa Haole tunes are usually upbeat and a tad playful. Dancers may wear brightly colored cellophane skirts, grass skirts, or knee length dresses adorned with flowers.
Regardless of what type of Hula a dancer is preparing for, he/she takes great pride in appearance, and representing the song/chant well.