The innovative choreographer on the beauty and cultural relevance of the Hawai’ian hula, and his transformative work with prisoners at San Quentin.
About the guest
Patrick Makuakāne (Director, Kumu Hula) is a creative force in the hula world, and is well known for his innovative choreography. His work is grounded in the traditions and fundamentals of hula, and he labors to keep traditional dances intact as they have been for generations. He has also developed a unique style of hula (called hula mua) that uses modern music to provide a whole new dimension to the poetry of hula. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i, Makuakāne began dancing at the age of 13 and went on to study with some of Hawai’i’s most recognized hula masters, including John Keola Lake and Robert Cazimero. In 2000, he began intensive traditional studies with hula master Mae Kamāmalu Klein in Hawai’i and, after three years, achieved the recognized status of kumu hula (hula master). This achievement culminated in a traditional ‘uniki ‘ailolo graduation ceremony and connects Makuakāne to a hula lineage stretching back for generations. His studies were made possible by funding from a prestigious two-year Irvine Fellowship in Dance. Makuakāne has received numerous awards for his choreography, including several Isadora Duncan Dance Awards (“Izzies”). In 2006, he received a lifetime achievement award from the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival.
The acclaimed dance company Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu was founded by Makuakāne in 1985. The company of 40 dancers is known for its unique contemporary style called hula mua, or “hula that evolves.” The style blends traditional movements with non-Hawaiian music like opera, electronic, dance, alternative and pop.
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