This research examines how hula is used in Christian churches on the island of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. To do this, I interviewed five Christian hula ministry leaders and one church official from different denominations of Christianity about their experiences with hula in their churches, in addition to using participant observation to see how two of the represented churches rehearsed and performed their hula. I use Edward Bruner’s (1983) theory of “dialogic narration” and Judith L. Hanna’s (1979) theory of dance as a system of communication to examine three simultaneous and conflicting narratives concerning hula in Hawaiʻi, those being the popular culture narrative, the Native Hawaiian narrative, and the Christian Hawaiian narrative. Further, I found that my contributors’ views hula and its connection to ancient Hawaiian religion can be placed on a continuum from traditional Hawaiian to Christian fundamentalist, which correlate to most accepting of combining Hawaiian religion with their Christian denomination to least accepting. I conclude by explaining these conflicting narratives in relation to Victor Turner’s theory of “multivocal symbols.”


Tritt, Kimberly

Second Advisor

Frese, Pamela

Third Advisor

Huston-Findley, Shirley


Sociology and Anthropology; Theatre and Dance


Christianity | Dance | Ethnomusicology | Hawaiian Studies | Performance Studies


Hula, Christianity, Hawaiʻi, Hawaiian, Dance, Chant

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2016 Emily Donato