ANOTHER YEAR OF DISCOVERY FOR PACIFIC DANCE AOTEAROA.
Pacific Dance Laboratory 2012
Mentor: Iopsefa Enari
Choreographers: Tupua Tigafua (Black Grace, Mau, New Zealand Dance Company), Nita Latu (3rd Year Bachelor of Dance Studies) and Dr Maile Giffin (Polynesian Entertainers) have embarked on a journey to discover and develop their various dance visions to create 3 very different and distinct dance works.
at Mangere Arts Centre, Auckland
10 Nov 2012
Reviewed by Teokotai Paitai, 12 Nov 2012
The Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab (PDCL) is in its 4th year, has a full house and is brimming with excitement. Support is one of the key factor's to the success story of PDCL, and this year is no different.
After formal acknowledgements by Pacific Dance New Zealand Director and this year's Senior Dance Mentor, Iosefa Enari, the show starts to thunderous applause.
The first of this year's 3 choreographer's, Nita Latu (Tonga) is about to present “We Are, Who We Are”. In her final year of the Bachelor of Dance Studies, at the University of Auckland, Latu is also a product of the Black Grace Dance Company's, Urban Youth Movement. Along with 9 students from 3 colleges (Avondale, Rutherford and Kelston) based in West Auckland, Latu tackles the overbearing weight of youth suicide within the Pacific community.
The dance asks, ponders and makes positive affirmations. Rhythms blend into imagery, and we witness hip hop transcend contemporary with ease, and vice versa.
Friends appear, and disappear; where one once sat in dismay, another arrives to offer, a hand up. The message of this dance unites and at the same time, offers each audience member, a challenge. A brave and noble dance, filled with integrity. These dancers are exciting to watch. They epitomise the vitality and promise of hope within youth. There is poise entrenched in this dance. It is a gift that comes from a special place. It is known to everyone. Malo ‘aupito.
The next offering is “Changes of our Land”, by Dr Maile Giffin (Hawaii). With the interest in Hawaiian hula (dance) growing in Aotearoa/NZ, it is a treat to get an insight into the history/culture of our Hawaiian cousins. Few of us have witnessed the Merrie Monarch Festival, held in Hawaiievery year. It is testimony to the resurgence of another culture that was colonised, in the Pacific.
Six performers open with chant. It is grounding. Movement is offered, humbly; inviting us into this new world. The audience takes check, and we realise we are witnessing a new voice, that we are familiar with, but, are not. Respectfully, we recognise, and we allow the ensuing dance to wash over us, like the scent of the ever-prominent Pacific iconic, frangipani flower. Precision cuts through this dance, hands, eyes, hips, legs. All are coordinated, to uncover a history, unknown to many of us in the audience. We reveal, we understand, and we acknowledge. It is story-telling, from the Pacific. We know.
Shel Silverstein. Heard of him? By the end of this, the final dance offering of the PDCL 2012, I'll be on my iphone to google him, and soak myself in his writings. For it is this writer that has inspired the dance work,
“We shall see Shel on the seashore” by Tupua Tigafua.
Before I continue, allow me to give a little more background to the Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab. The ‘lab' was set up to offer emerging choreographers, of Pacific descent, the chance to present a 10-15 minute work that they would like to develop, without the pressures of producing a show. This year each choreographer was given rehearsal space, dancers and promotion of their new work. Each choreographer also had 2 months to prepare their work, the longest time offered so far, for the ‘lab'.
This dance is an unexpected treat. Tigafua is a natural. The dancers (all 1st year dancers' from Unitec's Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts (Contemporary Dance) course) bring to life the magical nuances of a truly beloved story-teller.
If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you're a dreamer, a wisher a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
(Shel Silverstein: Where the Sidewalk Ends)
A full moon dances across the sky, as men cower under trees from the rain. The scene is set. A gentleman arrives home to familiarity. There is magic asunder. A hand takes hold of his umbrella and scarf, while a shoe, neatly polished, flexes to wear his cap. A dance evolves out of ‘thin air', or was it a sneeze? The full moon outside taunts, as a pied piper enlightens the un-converted.
The movement is light, filled with suspense. The tide slowly comes in, to take loved ones away on a ship. The audience respond with vigour. I try to remember the last time I waved farewell to a ship? There is humour in abundance. Moustached, young characters parade, across the stage, some only making it out of the wings. A foot taps a beat, another travels backwards.
Where are we? It doesn't matter. We are treated to a journey en route to a place called Happiness.
The overall sense of a complete show embodies me as I walk through the fine hallway of Mangere Arts Centre. This is the final show, for the Southside Arts Festival. Families and friends surround the performers and choreographers. They prop them up and celebrate another year of discovery for Pacific Dance Aotearoa.
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