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Best-selling author Constance Hale takes a fresh look at the world of hula with the release of “The Natives Are Restless: A San Francisco Dance Master Takes Hula into the 21st Century“
This first-of-its-kind book explores the largely untold story of Hawaiian hula using the groundbreaking choreography and teachings of San Francisco dance master Patrick Makuakāne
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (August 1, 2016) – Today, co-publishers Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu and Spark Press announced the release of “The Natives Are Restless: A San Francisco Dance Master Takes Hula into the 21st Century,” an innovative, first-of-its-kind coffee-table book exploring the rich ethnic dance tradition of Hawaiian hula. Written by Hawaii-born, San Francisco-based journalist Constance Hale, the stunning book’s narrative uses Makuakāne – a visionary in the hula world – to tell the largely untold story of hula, examining how it has roared back as an authentic art form after two centuries of overt suppression, benign neglect, and tourist cliché. In addition to its rich narrative, the book features extraordinary photography, archival material, and illustrations. The Natives Are Restless will be released on Tuesday, October 11, 2016 and will be available in bookstores, on Amazon, and through Na Lei Hulu i ka Wēkiu. It is distributed nationally by Ingram and will receive a national media campaign.“Constance Hale is one of those rare writers who can make you think she’s writing and painting at the same time,” says Nan Weiner, a longtime editor in the San Francisco Bay Area who edited the book. “She creates scenes with such precision and lively language that you can practically see them in your mind’s eye. Also, her love for hula, and her history with the dance, inform her prose on every level. This book is a perfect match between subject and writer. Telling a new, post-renaissance, post-sovereignty story about a new generation of Native Hawaiians who came of age during the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance, “The Natives Are Restless” probes in book form the question of what it means to be Hawaiian in the 21st century, showing how a new cohort of restless activists and artists are using Hawaiian culture to protest the “occupation” of the islands by the U.S. and insisting on a very Hawaiian kind of innovation. Author Constance Hale digs into the life of Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakāne, a pioneer of this new cohort, to tell the story in a narrative way, mixing biography, dance ethnography, profiles, scenes, and dramatic dance writing. She upends the mainland stereotype of hula as a dance of lythe young women in grass skirts and reexamines the binary view of hula as kahiko (traditional hula) and auana (contemporary hula) bringing Kumu’s new form, hula mua (traditional hula movements paired with non-traditional Hawaiian music), into the spotlight. Hale writes that hula mua – literally translated as “hula that evolves” – has propelled Hawaiian dance into the 21st century by finding new ways to recount ancient Hawaiian legends and historical events, while at the same time advancing the dance form into the future. She argues that perceptions developed in the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance, and carried on by institutions like the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, are changing today. In the background of the book she weaves in the tragic story of an indigenous people and the threats to its culture. In the foreground is groundbreaking choreography and exuberant theatricality that Makuakāne invents to tell that story. The crisp narrative, in language that is both lyrical and muscular, is complemented by four-color photographs and stunning page design. Makuakāne’s exhilarating, fierce, sensuous dance style comes alive on the page.