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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

I Lālā Mau Nā Hula Ilalaole He Kālailaina I Nā Kuhi Lima O Nā Hula A Joseph Kealiikuikamoku Ilalaole-O-Kamehameha
by Harman, Kekoa Lloyd, Ph.D., University of Hawai'i at Hilo, 2020, 224; 27999985
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation analyzes the kuhi lima, hand motions that accompany hula chants, within the 18 hula developed by Joseph Kealiikuikamoku Ilalaole-o-Kamehameha. Ilalaole, a native Hawaiian speaker and a descendant of Kamehameha I, was born in 1873 in Kaueleau, Puna, Hawaiʻi. Ilalaole’s hula are significant in that they both honor his royal lineage and, given their continued relevance, serve as a bridge between 19th century and contemporary culture. His hula constitute an influential canon within traditional Hawaiian dance and, while this dissertation focuses on these 18 hula specifically, it aims more broadly to provide a template for scholars of indigenous languages to better understand the relationship between language, culture, and dance.

Prior scholarship on dance has primarily utilized labanotation. The challenge of documenting indigenous dance through labanotation, however, is that such a method may preclude contemporary indigenous language speakers as well as some hula practitioners from actually utilizing such scholarship given the more esoteric format of labanotation. This dissertation aims to provide a more accessible frame of reference, namely still images of the kuhi lima, for understanding traditional hula.

The first portion of my research consisted of compiling the lyrics, as well as researching the historical context surrounding such lyrics, of each of Ilalaole’s 18 chants. These lyrics are the foundation of the dances themselves and hula could not exist without such lyrics. The lyrics imbue the corresponding movements with meaning. The kuhi lima along with the au wāwae, foot movements, provide the concrete, visual focus that emphasizes the meaning of the lyrics that are so deliberately chanted during the hula.

The second portion of my analysis encompassed the filming of each of the dances and of identifying the huaʻōlelo, the words of the chants, that are emphasized through the kuhi lima. Still images from that filming are used throughout this dissertation to illustrate the relationship between the huaʻōlelo and the kuhi lima. While a traditional dance cannot have a corresponding motion for each huaʻōlelo, the particular huaʻōlelo emphasized, and the physical manifestation of that huaʻōlelo, may provide some insight into how a native Hawaiian speaker understood and engaged with the 19th century world.

As the focus of this dissertation is the intersection of indigenous language, culture, and dance, it is the hope that this research imparts energy and momentum to future scholars in those disciplines so that they may further strengthen the Hawaiian language, the primary fiber that binds the character, outward behaviors, and traditional practices that together comprise the essence of Hawaiian being.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Iokepa-Guerrero, Noelani, Kōmike, Luna
Commitee: Cabral, Jason, Lopes, R. Keawe
School: University of Hawai'i at Hilo
Department: Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization
School Location: United States -- Hawaii
Source: DAI-A 81/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Dance, Cultural anthropology, Language, Native American studies
Keywords: Ancient hula, Cultural dance, Hula, Indigenous culture, Indigenous language, Language revitalization
Publication Number: 27999985
ISBN: 9798662383111
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