San Francisco's award-winning dance troupe, Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu, presents 'I Mua: Hula in Unusual Places'

April 18, 2019 at 9:50 AM HST - Updated April 18 at 9:50 AM

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakāne and his award-winning dance troupe, Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu, return to the Historic Hawaii Theatre (1130 Bethel St., Honolulu) for two performances only with their entirely new show, I Mua: Hula in Unusual Places. Na Lei Hulu's newest production takes audiences on a journey from the Black Rock Desert and San Quentin Prison to the San Francisco Opera House, sharing an authentic expression of culture that is inclusive and beguiling. The performance schedule is as follows: Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $40, $45 and $50 and a limited number of VIP tickets available for $100 that include a pre-show reception. All tickets will go on sale February 19th at the Hawaii Theatre Center Box Office at 808-528-0506 and on the web at www.hawaiitheatre.com.

In I Mua, Makuakāne expands his artistic vision, showcasing hula that escapes its familiar context. In a complete departure from its previous productions, the entirety of the show will be in Na Lei Hulu’s trademark “hula mua” style. Translated to “hula that evolves," this distinctive style blends traditional movements with non-Hawaiian music such as opera, electronic, dance, alternative, and pop, while retaining an authentic native undercurrent.

“This show is a vibrant reminder of how tradition and innovation can coexist in surprising and meaningful ways,“ says Makuakāne. “Over the past 33 years, Nā Lei Hulu has continued to evolve and explore the boundaries of our craft, from the music to we dance, to the places we perform. I Mua is a tribute to our spirit of openness to change, while never losing sight of our past.”

I Mua draws inspiration from a variety of Makuakāne and the troupe’s experiences. There is a segment inspired by Makuakāne’s work with incarcerated men at San Quentin State Prison and a sprawling suite of the troupe performing in the Black Rock Desert. Premiering at the Hawaiʻi show are a few selections from an upcoming musical based on the epic tale of Hiʻiaka. An exciting new venture that finds Makuakāne collaborating with Hawai’iʻs singing sensation, Kealiʻi Reichel and musical playwright, Rosalyn Cattrachia.

Multiple music styles are incorporated into the show, including a performance of “The Flower Duet” from the opera Lakmé, performed by San Francisco luminaries, soprano Maya Kehrani and mezzo-soprano Molly Mahoney; an act which honors powerful women who have influenced Makuakāne’s work through their music, dance and cultural relevance, with songs and dances from Billie Holiday, Bette Midler, ʻIolani Luahine, Myrtle K. Hilo and Leina’ala Kalama Heine; a hula-goes-swing segment with Hawaiʻi-based Kahulanui, a big-band orchestra that will set the stage afire with a ferocious blast of swinging Hawaiian jazz and Lindyhopping hula dancers; and more.

Founded in 1985, Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu (“the many feathered wreaths at the summit, held in high esteem”) is committed to teaching and preserving the Hawaiian culture through hula. It has a performance group of nearly 35 dancers and offers classes to students in the beginning and intermediate levels. The organization holds educational workshops throughout the year in Hawaiian language, history, and arts and crafts. The company has performed in locations throughout California, and in New York, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Honolulu. For further information on Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu, visit naleihulu.org.

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