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Hawaii: The Hula Lesson

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In “The Hula Lesson” we join Hawaiian Hula teacher Roselle Bailey and her multicultural halau to find out what hula is, what it means to Hawaii, and why so many non-Hawaiians love it.

Hula is more than girls dancing with coconut bras and grass skirts, with strains of Don Ho in the background. In fact, hula is a complete expression of a traditional culture, which uses dancing and singing for teaching social lessons, and for recounting history.

When we know our  own social and cultural identity, then we can understand who we are in relation  to others. Roselle feels this is the necessary first step for creating a peaceful world.

“The Hula Lesson” is our foundation piece.

In “The Hula Lesson” we join Hawaiian Hula teacher Roselle Bailey and her halau of multicultural women to find out what hula is, what it means to Hawaii, and why so many non-Hawaiians love it.

The role of “The Hula Lesson” in the Outer Voices series is to  provide an opportunity to examine what is perhaps the core issue of effective  peacemaking. The foundation for peace, as we learn in “The Hula Lesson”, lies  in understanding who we are in relationship to other people.

Hula Lesson Photo
photo credit Carlos Tejada

Roselle Bailey
Kumu Hula, Halau Ka'Imi Na'auao O Hawai'i Nei. Maui, USA

The Hula Lesson for Radio

Download broadcast quality WAV file:

arrow Promo 15min
arrow Promo 30min
arrow Full Hula Lesson Program

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Background Information

Historical Background on the History of Hula
That hula has been part of Hawaiian culture since ancient times, perhaps even from before there were people living in the islands now called Hawaiian, is clear from the multiplicity of traditions about its origin. Various places, among them the islands of Hawai`i, Moloka`i, O`ahu, and Kaua`i claim to be hula's birthplace, and link its beginnings to a number of gods and humans. Some claim that Hi`iaka's friend Hopoe was the first dancer. Others call Kapo'ulakina'u the first divine patron of hula, or cite the long and beautiful story of Keaomelemele as the foundation myth of dance. Still others connect its origins with various forms of the pan-polynesian culture hero, the great navigator Laka/La'a/Lata. arrow Read the full article


The Nation of Hawaii: Supplemental Program

From these interviews we created “Nation of Hawai’i”, an eight minute radio piece on the topic of Hawaii’an culture and the sovereignty movement,” to the multi-part public radio collaboration, Whose Democracy Is It? (found on http://www.npr.org). Aired November 3-9, 2003, our piece in this week of public radio programming was the only one devoted to women’s approaches to democracy, and one of only two profiling native peoples.

Nation of Hawai’i was produced by Susan Davis; written and narrated by Stephanie Guyer-Stevens, Audio Engineer was Robin Wise; Field Sound Producer was E.D. Lavis, assisted by Maureen Datta.

Background Information:

The halau’s background on sovereignty and their stated position regarding sovereignty.
WHEREAS, or. January 17, 1893, the government de jure of the peaceful, sovereign n nation known as the Kingdom of Hawai'i was unlawfully overthrown in a coup d'etat by insurrectionists with the aid of the U.S. Minister to Hawai'i and a detachment of U.S. marines, effectively undermining the lawful political authority of the Hawaiian Islands and severing its ability to exercise control over its national lands. arrow Read the full article

More background on the sovereignty movement
The Hawaiian sovereignty movement (ke ea Hawai‘i) consists of organizations and individuals seeking some form of sovereignty for Hawai'i. Generally, the movement's focus is on self-determination and self-governance for people of whole or part Native Hawaiian ancestry or, in some cases, for "Hawaiian nationals", without regard to race or ancestry. arrow Read the full article

Haunani Trask
Haunani Trask’s position on sovereignty.arrow Read the full article
Haunani-Kay Trask: Native Hawaiian Sovereignty Rhetoric "No matter what Americans believe, most of us in the colonies do not feel grateful that our country was stolen, along with our citizenship, our lands, and our independent place among the family of nations. We are not happy Natives."


Hula Lesson Photo"We ran this special a few years ago - it's great - I think we'll run it again. Outer Voices has an established record of producing high-quality, engaging and sound rich documentaries. This one is no different. This special provides excellent public service and rich production values. The great thing is it gives listeners to really learn about the Hula - far more than you would ever learn attending one. Even when you visit Hawaii, you have to really make an effort to lean about the culture and history. Also, it's great to learn about the Hula. It's easy for us to confuse that at a Luau, dances from around Polynesia are all performed. As with the other great docs from Stephanie and her team, this special is sound rich and lets the tape tell the story, with minimum narration.I encourage you to schedule this for your showcase slot or for a holiday special.

Arvid Hokanson, April 30, 2008

Related Programs Featuring Outer Voices Content

arrow Wisconsin Public Radio's Here on Earth


The Ford Foundation, Kimo Campbell, on behalf of Hawai'i's Thousand Friends; and Hawaii Forest and Trail.


» Hawaii: The Hula Lesson

» Cambodia: Girls from Cambodia

» Solomon Islands: The Story of Lata

» Burma: Kawthoolei

» Vietnam & Laos: The Price of Rice

» Project Incubator: New Stories



The Hula Halau that we interviewed for The Hula Lesson has their own website, which includes educational materials, archives, related articles and news updates about the Halaua’s activities:

The website for Kokee State Park on the island of Kauai – this is where the Halau meets.

The Queen Emmalani Festival
The Queen Emmalani Festival held in Kokee Park each year.

Archives and Transcripts

Fri before dinner Disc 1.rtf
Disc 2 Track 002 DC#1
Disc 2 Track 002 DC#1.rtf
Disc 3 Track 001 DC#2
Disc 3 Track 001 DC#2.rtf
Disc 4 Track 001 DC#3
Disc 4 Track 001 DC#3.rtf
Disc 5 Track 003 Cheryl
Disc 5 Track 003 Cheryl.rtf
Disc 6 Track 003 Keahi
Disc 6 Track 003 Keahi.rtf
Disc 10 Track 001 Marsha E
Disc 10 Track 001 Marsha E.rtf
Disc Log.doc
Disc Log.rtf
friday after dinner Disc 1.rtf
Friday PM After Dinner.pdf
Friday PM Before Dinner.pdf
rosell interview.rtf
Roselle Interview.pdf



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