October 2018 In Dance

» Continued from pg 3 IN PRACTICE: Patrick Makuakāne’s Hula in Unusual Places

music dance theater Performances Cal U N I V E R S I T Y O F C A L I F O R N I A , B E R K E L E Y



Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu / photo by Ron Worobec

Sasha Waltz & Guests Körper ( Bodies )

In her signature work, Körper ( Bodies ), groundbreaking choreographer Sasha Waltz explores the visceral tangle of humanity from the perspectives of history, science, and architecture. Set on 13 male and female dancers, the movement evokes a staggering range of embodied experience through a series of living tableaux, both epic and intimate.

Please note: this performance includes nudity.

what the dances are about. So in my shows I incorporate narration in a way that gives the audience a little hint but doesn’t over- whelm them.” Makuakane’s concept of an unusual place encompasses the geographic, the auditory, and the corporeal. Hula mua challenges essentialist theories that certain dances belong on certain bodies to certain music in certain places. One of Makuakane’s most cherished sites for teaching hula is San Quentin State Prison: “I teach in the chapel area. It’s not a hula class, it’s a Hawaiian spiritual group meeting, a service, under the auspices of the Religious Freedom Act. I went to (Catholic) church throughout grade school and high school, and never felt any connection. Then I started hula and realized this thing I’m feeling, this connection out of self to the world, I think this is what I’m supposed to be feeling at church. In some ways I can see that in the guys when they’re in class. There’s this connection with community, arms and hands moving in space accompanied by some kind of chant or music. It’s a time when I see their walls come down, and they’re vulnerable and open, and always very respectful. It just goes to show not only the power of dance—I hate that phrase, it’s more than that. It’s community, it’s acceptance, it’s acknowledgement, all of that plays into a successful community and then you add dance to it and, wow, how could you not be inspired and interested in that.” When Makuakane was growing up on Oahu in the 1960s, native Hawaiian culture was very much on the periphery of his family and community events. But in the 1970s, a Hawaiian cultural renaissance invited people to ask questions about their identity as native Hawaiians. According to Makuakane, many moved into the fields of music and dance to find answers to those questions: “I found all those answers in hula. Dance is what saved our culture and language in the 70s. Now we’re in the midst of another renaissance of knowledge, people going back to study traditional applications and methods, dancing, canoeing, farming, wayfaring, sending their kids to Hawaiian language immersion schools. I’m amazed.” And since all identities are intersectional identities, hula offered Makuakane a way to embrace his ethnicity, spirituality, and sexuality: “In high school, when I told my mother and sister that I was going to be a hula teacher, they were like, ‘Oh, so you are gay!’” They didn’t really say that. But when Makuakane brought that conversation up 25

years later after earning the right to be a kumu hula, he asked his sister and mother, “Do you remember that conversation? Yes . And did you think that? Yes .” Makuakane had a good laugh over that one. Stereotypical assumptions aside, Makuakane did find hula to be a place where he felt safe being himself: “My main teacher was gay, not out or any- thing, but a flamboyant guy being himself; he didn’t look like he was hiding any- thing. And he was the leader of all these young guys who were football players, big macho guys, learning to dance by mov- ing their hips. And I was like, Where’s that magic wand at?” As hula began having its renaissance in the 1970s, more and more boys and men were drawn to the form as a way to express their native identity: “It was becoming more acceptable. You were still called a fag, and some groups were deemed more faggy than others. My group was one of the faggier groups.” This sparked a movement to develop a hyper- masculine style of dance, “almost as if a way to let people know [grunts], we’re not gay.” Though this style may be traced to lua, Hawaiian martial arts, which “tradi- tionally speaking, have a close relation- ship with hula, in the oldest archival foot- age of people dancing hula it’s very soft and flowing.” Makuakane hadn’t planned to stay in San Francisco when he moved here to be with his partner in 1983. After three months, he’d found home. “I couldn’t do a show in Hawai’i called Hula in Unusual Places. Here I can. I am going to take the show back to Hawai’i next year, but it was important for me to plant the seeds in San Francisco. The gay scene, the mod- ern dance scene, this unique experiment with life.” Makuakane’s whole career has emphasized the fact that dances are con- nected to places and people, and, at the same time, are roomy enough to include and engage other places, other people: “Here I am doing hula outside of the mothership, and I feel like I’m set free.” SIMA BELMAR, PH.D. , is a Lecturer in the Depart- ment of Theater, Dance, & Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and writing fellow at the National Center for Choreography in Akron, Ohio. Her scholarly articles and book reviews have appeared in TDR , the Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices , Performance Matters , Contemporary Theatre Review , and The Oxford Handbook of Screendance Studies .


Compagnie Käfig Pixel 11 outstanding dancers merge elements of Brazilian urban dance with hip-hop, modern dance, and circus arts as they navigate a sophisticated interactive environment of light and lasers that confounds our perceptions of what is virtual and what is real. “ Pixel is as close as it gets to a duet of projected images and dance…It is a playful and ever–shifting montage of three-dimensional forms—delightful, cloying, surprising all at once.” — Herald Sun , Melbourne



Season Sponsor:

Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu presents I Mua: Hula in Unusual Places : Oct 20-28, Palace of Fine Arts, SF. naleihulu.org


in dance OCT 2018

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