An interview with Patrick Makuakāne | Why Dance Matters

Patrick Makuakane is a dance maker, teacher and hula master and recently received a fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation. The fellowships are given to preeminent artists and thinkers and are popularly known as the ‘genius’ awards. Patrick is a passionate and thoughtful advocate for hula, a form of dance inextricably linked with Hawaii’s history and culture. Born in Honolulu, Patrick is now based in San Francisco, where he has built a vibrant community of hula dancers and students. He speaks to us from Hawaii.

Patrick Makuakāne studied hula with several kumu hula (master teachers) and received the title of kumu hula himself in 2003. He has been the director and founder of Nā Lei Hulu i ka Wēkiu, a community-centred hula company and cultural organisation, since 1985. He also serves as a spiritual and cultural advisor for the Native Hawaiian Religious Spiritual Group at San Quentin State Prison. His company has performed at venues in New York, San Francisco, Hawaii and New Orleans. He was awarded a Fellowship by the MacArthur Foundation in 2023.

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