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Christopher Balme

The dances and music of the Polynesian peoples have had varying impact on the United States over the last one and half centuries. Of greatest importance are Hawaiian music and dance, including musical instruments such as the Pedal steel guitar and Ukulele, and practices such as the Hula (see Hawaii). Owing to US colonial involvement in the region, exchange and influences transcend just the Hawaiian connection. For the 1909 production Inside the Earth at the New York Hippodrome 50 Maori performers were imported from New Zealand for the season. To promote her 1926 silent film, Aloma of the South Seas, the dancer Gilda Gray toured with a Polynesian band, The Royal Samoans, and performed her “Polynesian dance” before showings. The Royal Samoans capitalized on the craze for Hawaiian and Tahitian music and dancing. They performed throughout the United States in the interwar period, even obtaining a live cameo in the ...