Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu
NATIONAL/ETHNIC IDENTITY: Hawaii
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakāne
First Appearance in SF EDF: 1990
Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu has called San Francisco home for over 30 years. They are dedicated to the preservation of Hawaiian culture through hula. Their performances are a vibrant reminder of how tradition and innovation can coexist in meaningful and surprising ways. What makes the company unique is its trademark style, hula mua. Meaning “hula that evolves,” the style blends traditional movements with non-Hawaiian music. The company showcases a mix of hula mua and authentic, traditional pieces in its performances. Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakāne is the Artistic Director.
DANCE ORIGIN: Hawaii
GENRE: Hula ʻAuana, Hula Kahiko
TITLE: The Flower Duet; Ke Kumu o ke Ola; ‘O ke Au Hawai‘i; E Ala ē
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR/ CHOREOGRAPHER: Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakāne
DANCERS: Janet Auwae-McCoy, Jerome Borjal, Chris Brodie, Marleen Bush, Vivian Chu, Kimi DeCoito, Kaila DeFries, Kahala Fisher, Ryan Fuimaono, Rose Guthrie, Malia King, Jason Laskey, Lola Laskey, Kiana Mabry, Patrick Makuakāne, Heather Meacham, Edna Moran, Kailani Moran, Jason Ogao, Tanisha Reshke, Neil Romabiles, Rebekah Samorano, Sylvia Tewes, Heather Walton
MUSICIAN: Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakāne (ipu heke)
FLOWER DUET VOCALISTS: Maya Kherani, Cortez Mitchell
FLOWER DUET PIANIST: Christina Galisatus
Nā Lei Hulu opens with the intensely beautiful Flower Duet, a western-influenced hula ʻauana performed in elaborate ball gowns. The song is from Lakmé, Delibes’ 1883 French opera about the family of a Brahmin priest forbidden to practice their Hindu religion by the British then occupying India. Here, Lakme, the daughter of the Brahmin priest, and her servant go to a river bank to gather flowers to practice their Hindu rituals in secret and sing the famous duet.
Next, the men dance Ke Kumu o ke Ola, honoring patriot Robert Kalanikahiapo Wilcox, a native Hawaiian revolutionary soldier and politician who attempted to restore Queen Liliʻuokalani to the throne following the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.
As the final piece, Kumu Patrick Makuakāne presents E Ala ē, a hula kahiko choreography accompanied by kalāʻau (long and short sticks). It opens with a chant:
Oh chiefs of time past look down upon your offspring,
how much we love our land,
Dressed as 19th-century Hawaiians, dancers aggressively beat sticks, protesting the annexation of Hawaii to the United States. They tell a compelling history, as Hawaiians unified in wisdom and strength to refuse American annexation: It was a brief forty years between 1846—when King Kamehameha III signed treaties between the Independent Kingdom of Hawaii and major nations of the world—and 1887, when King Kalākaua was forced to sign a constitution disenfranchising most Hawaiians. In 1893 a US-supported coup deposed Hawaii’s last monarch, Queen Liliʻuokalani, and in 1897 President McKinley moved towards annexation. And Hawaii fought back. Patriots traveled to every corner of the islands, running horses, traveling by steamer, holding mass town meetings, obtaining signatures on an anti-annexation petition, all of Hawaii protesting.
Mai makaʻu, e kūpaʻa, ma ke aloha i ka ʻāina
Pūlima ē, pūlima hoʻi, kau i ka palapala
A signature, a signature,
Affix on the petition protesting annexation
Tens of thousands of Hawaiians signed, 90% of the native population, along with many others, convincing the US Senate not to ratify annexation. In 1998, these petitions were exhibited at the state capital, and thousands of visitors witnessed their ancestor’s signatures, a spiritual transmission of the Hawaiian will. Kumu Patrick says, “History rarely tells this side of the story where our kupuna (ancestors), through monumental effort, galvanized an entire nation to speak and act in solidarity, to resist the illegal annexation attempt of our beloved homeland.”
Two extraordinary vocalists accompanied Nā Lei Hulu for the performance of Delibes’ Flower Duet—soprano Maya Kherani and countertenor Cortez Mitchell.
Praised for her “crystalline tone” by Opera News, lyric coloratura soprano Maya Kherani has sung over 30 operatic roles spanning her 6-year career. Maya recently triumphed as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro at West Bay Opera, lauded for her “sparkling” and “delightful” portrayal by San Francisco Classical Voice. At the BU Opera Institute, she sang Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and La Fée in Cendrillon. In 2014, Maya made her Houston Grand Opera debut as Meera in the world première of River of Light. Upcoming roles include Britomarte in The Chastity Tree at West Edge Opera, and two roles at Opera San Jose: Despina in Così fan tutte and covering Lisette in La Rondine. Prior to her singing career, Maya raduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Cortez Mitchell is a native of Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Morgan State University with a B.A. in music and a B.S. in mathematics and holds an M.M. in voice from the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. As Minnesota Opera’s first resident artist countertenor, he performed the role of Cherubino in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and covered Nicklausse in Offenbach’s Les Contes de Hoffman. With Urban Opera he performed the role of 1st Witch in Purcell’s Dido and Aneas. He has been featured in solo performances of J.S Bach’s Cantata 147 Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben with the Dayton Philharmonic, R. Nathaniels Dett’s The Ordering of Moses and Adolphus Hailstork’s Done Made My Vow with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Rachmaniov’s Vespers in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Wynton Marsalis’s All Rise with the Lincoln Center Jazz Ensemble. Cortez has received awards from the National Opera Association, The Washington International competition and the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum competition. Cortez is in his tenth season with Chanticleer, the Grammy-award winning vocal ensemble based in San Francisco.
GENRES: Hula Kahiko, Hula ʻAuana, Hula Mua
TITLE: Pā Mai Ka Makani A He
Moaʻe; Mālamalama ʻO Kapalakiko; Hanohano Ka Uka I Pihanakalani; Ke Kumu O Ke
Ola; Oli Aloha No Ka ʻIpuka Kula; Aloha ʻOe; I Left My Heart in San Francisco
CHOREOGRAPHER: Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakāne
DANCER: Kumu Hula Shawna Alapaʻi
DANCERS: Heather Alejandro, Maile Apau Norris, Nicole Arguello,
Janet Auwae-McCoy, Jerome Borjal, Chris Brodie, Kaipo Bush, Marleen Bush,
Vivian Chu, Makani da Silva, Manny Dacalanio, Kimi DeCoito, Kahala Fisher, Ryan
Fuimaono, Mano Gilman, Rose Guthrie, JoAnne Hongo, Malia King, Jason Laskey,
Kiana Mabry, Stacey Mabuhay, Edna Moran, Kailani Moran, Jason Ogao, Chris Pimentel, Tanisha
Reshke, Neil Romabiles, Rebekah Samorano, Sylvia Tewes, Joycelyn
Torres-Sprague, Princess Villegos, Desiree Woodward-Lee
MUSICIANS: Rosalie Baker (ʻukulele), Arleen Fernando (ʻukulele),
Karen Gehrman (ʻukulele), Kris Lee (ʻukulele), Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakāne
(ipu ʻheke, ʻukulele), John Shima (ʻukulele)
Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakāne
dedicates this suite to Hawaiʻi’s friendship with San Francisco.The program honors Hawaiian royals
and patriots who visited San Francisco in the late 1800s and San Francisco’s
vibrant Hawaiian community from the 1800s to today.
The Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, a
performance home to this company, has hosted many well-loved Hawaiian performers over the
years. For example, At the 1915 World’s Fair, the performances at the Hawaiian
Pavilion were a runaway favorite.
Three of this program’s chants were
written by renowned University of Hawaiʻi Language Professor and composer Puakea
The entrance mele, Pā Mai Ka Makani A He Moaʻe —The wind blows,
a Moaʻe breeze—tells of the heady perfurme of the maile flower, blown from
Koʻiahi’s deep forest to the San Francisco Bay Area.
The next mele is Mālamalama ʻO Kapalakiko—Luminous is San
mai nei ʻo Kapalakiko Renowned is
mai ka mālamalama The brilliance gleams
aʻe ka manaʻo, kau ka haliʻa It
inspires sweet recollections
Ka Uka I Pihanakalani—The uplands of Pihanakalani—is an old chant honoring Queen Kapiʻolani, wife of King
Kalākaua, comparing her to a legendary queen in the home of the birds in
heavenly Pihanakalani. She visited San Francisco in 1887 enroute to Queen
Kumu O Ke Ola—The Reason for Living—is
dedicated to Robert Kalanikahiapo Wilcox, US Congressional delegate
representing the territory of Hawaiʻi. He’s known for his unsuccessful 1895
attempt to restore Queen Liliʻuokalani to the throne. He lived in San Francisco the year prior to his
Aloha No Ka ʻĪpuka Kula—Welcome Chant for the Golden Gate—is a heart-rending ode to San Francisco.
ʻOe—Farewell to Thee—was written by Queen Liliʻuokalani,
Hawaiʻi’s last ruling monarch. The Kailimai Hawaiian Quintet sang this
well-loved song at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
This performance ends with I Left My Heart in San Francisco, which,
just like the best Hawaiian mele, describes a
beloved natural geography.
TITLES: Kumulipo, Māui Turning Back the Sky
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR/CHOREOGRAPHER: Patrick Makuakāne
DANCERS: Maile Apau-Norris, Nicole Arguello, Janet Auwae-McCoy, Heather Barrett, Kahala Bishaw, Jerome Borjal,
Kaipo Bush, Manny Dacalanio, Makani da Silva Santos, Kaila DeFries, Jenny
Des Jarlais, Marleen Esquerra, Ryan Fuimaono, Rose Guthrie, Malia King, Jason
Laskey, Marlo Lualemana, Kiana Mabry, Edna Moran, Chris Pimentel, Jason
Ogao, Tanisha Reshke, Neil Romabiles, Sylvia Tewes, Lola Tortolero,
Chris Uesugi-Lauer, Princess Villegos, Heather Walton, Desiree Woodward-Lee,
Lehua Zane, Linda Zane
MUSICIANS: Kristopher Lee (ta’iri parau,
to’ere, pahu tupa’i rima), Patrick Makuakāne (ipu heke)
Māui Turning Back the Sky
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR/ CHOREOGRAPHER:
DANCERS: Maile Apau-Norris, Nicole Arguello, Janet Auwae-McCoy, Heather Barrett, Kahala Bishaw, Jerome Borjal, Kaipo Bush, Marlo Bush, Manny Dacalanio, Kaila DeFries, Marleen Esquerra, Ryan Fuimaono, Debbie Garcia, Jo-Anne Hongo, Malia King, Edna Moran, Janette Neves-Rivera, Jason Ogao, Jason Paranada, Chris Pimentel, Tanisha Reshke, Neil Romabiles, Makani da Silva, Sylvia Tewes, Lola Tortolero, Chris Uesugi-Lauer, Princess Villegos, Heather Walton, Desiree Woodward-Lee, Lehua Zane, Linda Zane
MUSICIANS: Kris Lee, Carlos Wright, and the Drummers of Nemenzo
VOCALS: Shawna Alapa‘i and Linda Kaholo
original Polynesian settlers sailed in from Southeast Asia over 2,500
years ago, guided by the stars, currents, and birds. Until they
developed writing in the 19th century, Hawaiians shared knowledge and history through song and story.
The world premiere Māui Turning Back the Sky retells several traditional stories: O Ka ‘Au Moana – Māui’s Travels by Sea; Pūka‘i‘ka‘i Ka Lani – Lift the Sky; E Ho‘oloulou ‘O Pimoe – The Hooking of Pimoe; Hulei Nā Moku – Raise the Islands; He Wahine Namunamu Ana – The Grumbling Woman; and He Pāhelele Ka Lā – Ensnare the Sun. The choreography combines modern and traditional Hawaiian hula, and the dancers use traditional Hawaiian percussive instruments, chant, and the anvil and mallet (kua and hohoai) which are used to make kapa (bark cloth).
Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakāne choreographed this piece for the Festival stage—in collaboration with historian Lucia Tarallo Jensen. In her book, "Māui Dialogues" Jensen retells the stories of Māui, a revered 1st century ancestral navigator and explorer faced with twelve challenges. She explains how Hawaiian stories passed crucial information between islanders—and helped them memorize a navigational chart of the Pacific.
One story explains how the sun alters its speed throughout the year, and how the solstices battle—how the dark of night and light of day ensnare and defeat one another. Through these Māui stories, important local knowledge of stars, winds, and currents was communicated from one generation to the next.
Long ago, ‘Alae-nui-a Hina—a bailer turned beautiful woman—helped Māui catch his father, a giant, ancient ulua fish. ‘Alae swam fathoms to find the ulua, and she drove Māui’s magic hook deep into the ulua's jaw so Māui could reel him in. As the fish surfaced, a string of islands came up, hooked onto its craggy back. Māui’s brothers looked back, and this broke the spell. So the ulua slipped away – and the islands slid apart into their present positions.
This story is an astronomical map: Māui’s adventures follow the celestial placement of the Ka Makau I‘a hook (in Scorpio); attached to the Manaiakalani fishing line (cast through the Milky Way); by three Māui brothers in their canoe (Orion's belt); to the Ulua (in Cassiopeia/Gemini); baited by the ‘Alae (in Aquila).
Historian and author Lucia Tarallo Jensen is co-founder and curator of the indigenous Hawaiian contemporary art group, Hale Nauā III. Her recent book, Daughters of Haumea, won the 2006 Ka Palapala Po‘okela award for excellence.
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