Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu is a remarkable, San Francisco-based company and school devoted to the preservation of Hawaiian culture through its most well-known dance — the hula. But this is a two-pronged, contemporary kind of preservation. While the group presents traditional hula, founder and hula master Patrick Makuakane develops new dances, too, pairing his choreography with non-traditional music, costumes and settings. He manages this tightrope walk with respect, integrity, spirit, artistry and good taste. If you haven’t seen Na Lei Hulu, here’s your chance. The company of 40 dancers will be performing at downtown LA’s California Plaza, Water Court Stage, 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday (Aug. 11 & 12), presented by Grand Performances. It’s free.
The two-act show is scheduled to open with a welcome chant that expresses Hawaii’s connections with San Francisco, and includes works from seminal Hawaiian artists, such as Dennis Kamakahi (a multi-Grammy winner). Then there are the numbers performed to music not often associated with hula — “The Long Road” by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and John Phillips’ 1967 classic, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair).”
Not the stereotypical tourist show, that’s for sure.