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The Contemporary Pacific 14.1 (2002) 286-288

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Book Review

Hula, Haka, Hoko! An Introduction to Polynesian Dancing

Hula, Haka, Hoko! An Introduction to Polynesian Dancing, by Ad and Lucia Linkels. Tilburg: Mundo Etnico Foundation, 1999. ISBN 90-72840-13-5, NUGI 924-925; 163 pages, notes, glossary, discography, bibliography, photographic data, acknowledgments. 27.30 in Europe; 36.40 outside Europe.

"As a Papalangi, Haole or Pakeha [different terms denoting white Europeans or Americans], I will never be able to fully understand the culture, and certainly will never be able to fully live amongst the people, but still I admire and envy the Polynesians and their natural and humane way of life, especially on the remote islands, which are less affected by tourism and other foreign influences from the industrialized world" (Linkels 1999).

In this day and age, more and more native peoples are exercising their right to tell their own histories and interpret their own cultures. Insider perspectives are greatly valued as they provide direct insight into how the aboriginal people themselves feel about their own culture. The manner in which they categorize their information and judge what they think is important helps others better understand who they really are. Were it not for the disclaimer that appears in the third paragraph of the introduction of Ad and Lucia Linkels' book, Hula, Haka, Hoko! it would have been very difficult for me to assess the value of this book. However, the Linkels' many years of dedication in the study of "world/ethnic" music and dance, their impassioned efforts in arts education through Mundo Etnico, and the joy that shines through their work are compelling reasons to engage this unassuming yet informative look at Polynesian performing arts. Ad Linkel is the author, but because his experiences were shared by his wife, Lucia, the terms I and we are used throughout the book.

As they explain in their introduction, each of the three terms in the title represents one of the apexes of the Polynesian triangle: hula is the general Hawaiian term for dance, haka is the general term for the New Zealand Maori posture dance, and hoko is the Rapanui term for rocking the body back and forth while singing, according to the authors. Ad Linkel introduces the book as "the result of my love affair with Polynesia." He and Lucia have traveled to various regions all over the globe, including Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, and now the Pacific, to study and record the dances and songs of native peoples.

The publication is geared to an audience unfamiliar with the Pacific region and Polynesian cultures. With this in mind, geographic, ethnic, and historical background is presented along with Pacific maps. Also covered are the peopling of the Pacific, the arrival of Europeans, and brief comments on foreign influences. An interesting chapter on the authenticity of Polynesian dancing raises issues regarding stereotypes and what Adrienne Kaeppler terms "airport art."

It was a pleasant surprise to see sections devoted to poetry and music and their crucial roles in many Polynesian dance forms. A significant portion of the work is devoted to function and style with respect to dance form and classification by cultural origin. [End Page 286] There is also a brief commentary on colors and costumes.

Over the course of their travels in the Pacific, the Linkels managed to capture dancing and dance contexts on film. Distributed over the 188 pages are 275 photographs, both color and black-and-white, which add tremendously to the overall work--in fact, they are one of the main attractions. Events such as the Festival of Pacific Arts are important venues for observing a wide range of artistic genres performed by the Pacific people themselves. Also included is an impressive and diverse discography that includes the Linkels' own recording work.

Concluding remarks are presented in the final chapter entitled "Comparisons." This closing section is as interesting as it is curious. The Linkels explain that learning about the cultures and dances of Polynesia has helped them become aware of their own Dutch heritage and...


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