Saturday, August 11, 2007

Patrick Makuakāne Presents Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu

I missed the afternoon per-
formance at the National Museum of the American Indian,

but in the evening. I saw the most magnificent production of hula I have ever seen. The San Francisco dance company, Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu, delighted a huge audience at Damrosch Park in Lincoln Center. I'll mostly let Lin Cariffe's pictures of other performances of the same works speak for themselves.

Kumu Patrick Makuakāne is such a fabulous presenter as well as a mesmerizing choreographer that he brings the audience right into the show while the show itself plays sensuality, thought and feeling with equal command and force.
Lihau Hannahs and Kellen Paik provided highly evocative live music for the spectacular production, with thirty-two magnificently costumed dancers, who mixed presentations of traditional legends and tributes with two pieces of piercing satire and several touching, graceful modern pieces, including two set to Annie Lenox and Cyndi Lauper's most wistful songs, a brilliant capture of Peggy Lee's Fever, and a somehow heartrending interpretation of Tony Bennet's version of I Left My Heart in San Franscisco, with its illustrative gestures for "little cable cars" and "halfway to the stars"-- among other phrases -- casually revealing quite exactly what hula is about.

A man seated in the row behind me shouted out frantically that he couldn't see, and at least twenty people turned around to shush him, pleading with him not to spoil it for everyone, so swept up was the audience with the gentle but powerful grace and great wit of the show.