Today my sixteen year old daughter and I are dancing at a local fundraiser. We’re dancing a modern Polynesian dance. Our family has no known Polynesian ancestry of any kind. We fell into Polynesian dancing by way of living by the beach. My daughter has been dancing since she was three years old, and one summer when she was about eleven, there was a Polynesian dance camp. One thing led to another and I got sucked up by the Hula as well. One of the things I love about Polynesian dance is that everyone does it. Little kids, older people, slender girls, plus size ones. Everyone can dance. There are seated hulas, Hula Noho. So even if you can’t walk, you can still hula from your chair. It’s a very inclusive and welcoming tradition.
Hula can be just Hollywood style glitz in grass skirts to please the crowds, or it can be a deeply spiritual cultural experience. Tonight, we’re having fun with a modern Polynesian song and a more casual style of dancing than we usually do. Even so, we always want to respect the culture that these forms of dance come from. We’re visitors in other people’s traditions every time we dance. We’re grateful to be able to participate in a small way in the wonderful world of Hula.