I wrote about Patrick Makuakane’s “progressive hula” for today’s Chronicle Pink Section.
“U2 blasts on the stereo system as two dozen women shake their hips. Bare feet touch the auditorium’s tile floor, skirts sway, hands trace a silent language in the air as Bono sings of “Mysterious Ways.”
Patrick Makuakane watches with crossed arms as the women return holding paper flowers. Their movements lull above the drum and bass of a techno track. Then the beat explodes into double-time, and so does the sea of bodies, one mass of rippling torsos changing direction in mesmerizing sync. The women become still as a group of men enter on hands and knees, noses sniffing like animals.
“It’s a piece about a flying vagina and a pig who chases after it,” Makuakane explains during rehearsal break. “You see, the Fire Goddess Pele has an adversarial relationship with a Pig God. The Pig is getting too amorous. Her older sister has a detachable vagina and sends it over, and the Pig gets distracted and follows it to the other island. And my dancers use the flowers as a symbol of the vagina.
“Of course it sounds humorous,” he says. “But it all comes from Hawaiian legends. And when Hawaiians hear this huge epic myth, the whole detachable vagina section isn’t snickered at. A lot of hula has to do with procreation.”
Welcome to Makuakane’s strange, entrancing world of hula mua, or “progressive hula.” Cyndi Lauper, Annie Lennox, Roberta Flack — no music is off-limits. Modern in sound, hypnotic in effect, these dances attract sold-out crowds of hula fans and newcomers alike. But it’s Makuakane’s immersion in tradition — not his liberation from it — that has made him the leading kumu hula, or teacher, in the Bay Area. ”
Click here for the full story.