Clash of the Traditions

In 2009, So You Think You Can Dancefeatured traditional Russian folk dancing (don’t ask us how we know this) and it bombed, spectacularly. Primarily because American audiences have little patience for folk dancing that is not Riverdance, but also because traditional dancing should be done by traditional dancers, not by breakdancers after a day’s practice in a studio gone toxic with made-for-TV sexual tension. The Hula Show doesn’t have this problem; Na Lei Hulu, a 40-strong dance company with a 25-year history in San Francisco, steeps its members in the ancient style. And then it turns them loose with hula mula, which pairs hula with decidedly non-hula music, including opera, electronica, alternative, and pop. This year’s show goes especially eccentric: After jumping from India to Turkey to Spain, it lands at home with the Golden Gate Men’s Chorus providing a cappella accompaniment onstage. Don’t be scared — few understand their first bite of Spam sushi, either. Another, more traditional highlight is “Hanohano Kapalakiko,” an original suite of chants celebrating the historical relationship between San Francisco and Hawaii, written by composer Puakea Nogelmeier.
Fri., Oct. 21, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 22, 8 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 23, 4 p.m., 2011

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