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World Languages: How Hula Dancers Connect Hawaii’s Past and Present

Honolulu is home to tourism hotspot Waikiki, and many of the city’s beachfront hotels host lavish luaus showcasing styles of hula influenced by Western music and instrumentation. But for Native Hawaiians, the origins of hula are deeply spiritual and rooted in Hawaii’s creation stories and the history and culture of their kūpuna or ancestors. Driven by the mele (poetry), hula marries movement with spoken word to express stories about specific deities, people, places and events.

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