Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu
DANCE ORIGIN: Hawai‘i
Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu ("The
Many Feathered Wreaths at the Summit, Held in High Esteem”) is a hālau hula, or
hula school, based in San Francisco. Led by Director/Kumu Hula Patrick
Makuakāne, the hālau features a dance company of 40 performers and offers Hawaiian
dance classes. Founded in 1985, the hālau’s mission is to preserve the Hawaiian
culture through hula. 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.
GENRES: Hula Kahiko, Hula ʻAuana, Hula Mua
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 Nogelmeier.
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 Francisco:
mai nei ʻo Kapalakiko Renowned is
Hanohano 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 Victoria’s jubilee.
Ke 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 rebellion.
Oli Aloha No Ka ʻĪpuka Kula—Welcome Chant for the Golden Gate—is a heart-rending ode to San Francisco.
Aloha 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.
Hawai‘i's 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.