Hapa Haole Style

In regards to Hula dance, the dance of Hawai’i, there are two main styles of differentiating types. The two types of Hula are Hula Kahiko and Hula ‘Auana. From here there are subcategories including Hula Implements and Hapa Haole style. A Hula dancer may use dance implements such as the ‘uli ‘uli or ipu with either Hula Kahiko or Hula ‘Auana, but Hapa Haole is only for Hula ‘Auana.

Hula Kahiko is chant dancing. The chants are an homage to the ancestors or kapuna of Hawaii like Queen Liliʻuokalani. They can also be in reverence to the islands themselves or an oral tradition of passing down stories. Even though this is “traditional” dancing, it doesn’t infer that new Kahiko chants cannot be composed. If current Kahiko chants are composed, they should first of all be an actual chant, and be another channel for cultural preservation or homage. Artist and Kumu Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu composes many Hula Kahiko style songs or na mele.

Hula ‘Auana infers to modern or contemporary songs and dances sung in either English or Hawaiian. The lyrics still reflect Hawaiian culture or moments reflective of the history. You can think of any song you hear in the style of Hawaiian Hula as being contemporary. The main thing is that the songs are sung rather than chanted.

Hapa Haole is a type of music and dance of Hawaii that is a subcategory of Hula ‘Auana. Haole means foreign in Hawaiian. People often think it means just Caucasian, however, anyone, not Native Hawaiian could be considered Haole. I’m not white, but I’m not native and I’m a mainlander, so that makes me Haole.

The signifying quality of Hapa Haole is music that is composed with influences from jazz, foxtrot, swing while integrating some Hawaiian instruments like ‘ukulele or slack key guitar. Hapa Haole definitely has a distinct sound. Some songs that are well-known in the style of Hapa Haole could include:

All of these songs have many cover artists. The Hawaiian Wedding Song, for example, had its original composition in 1926 and was recorded by Charles King. Other artists who famously covered the song include Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, and Elvis Presley. There are also versions in which it is sung in Hawaiian. Click on the links for original developments. If you are interested in learning my choreography to Hawaiian Wedding Song, check that out here.


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