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Patrick Makuakāne

Sixteen years after receiving a lifetime achievement award from the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, the iconoclastic kumu (hula master) picked up a second such honor, this time from the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce of Northern California at its 20th anniversary gala in May. “That just means I’m old,” jokes Makuakāne, who founded dance company Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu in 1985, a year after moving to San Francisco from his hometown of Honolulu. Still abuzz from presenting hula at his sixth Burning Man, Makuakāne says he’s also invigorated by the collaborators for his troupe’s annual Palace of Fine Arts performances, October 22 and 23. Called Mahu, the Hawaiian term for “third gender” or transgender, the show features mahu trio Kuini, kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu and singer-songwriter Kaumakaiwa Kanaka‘ole, “who are over the top because that’s who they are,” Makuakāne notes. “As a teacher, you pray to get those kinds of musicians to inspire your students to dance their ass off. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.”

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