Patrick Makuakane and World Arts West collaborated to create and present “Maui, Turning Back the Sky,” a dance piece inspired by ancient Hawaiian astronomy and the story of Maui, who was the great ancestral navigator/astronomer guiding all Polynesian ancestors to the Polynesian islands around 3,000 BC. Hawaiian people’s sophisticated understanding of astronomy and the night sky is being reconstructed by Hawaiian scholars, and one goal of the work was to introduce this forgotten knowledge to the Hawaiian community and general public.
The artists illuminated the travails of Maui by offering a dramatic interpretation of chant and dance that offered a view into an enlightened sea-faring society that valued poetry. A significant section of the piece was extracted from the Kumulipo, a sacred Hawaiian creation chant. He worked closely with historian Lucia Tarallo Jensen on developing the work.
Patrick Makuakane is the Kumu Hula of Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu, which formed in 1985 in San Francisco. He works in both traditional and contemporary forms of hula. He has earned the title of Kumu Hula through extensive traditional training in Hawai’i.
World Arts West serves the Bay Area’s ethnic, traditional, and folk dance communities primarily through the production of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. Its programs provide opportunities for cultural exchange and dialogue between the general public and the large community of ethnic dance artists. “Maui Turning Back the Sky” was presented as part of the festival’s 30th anniversary.