Au Revoir by Whitireia Performing Arts
14/06/2012 - 16/06/2012
Works a triumph of movement and costuming
Review by Jennifer Shennan 18th Jun 2012
30 dancers and musicians perform on the eve of departure to festivals in Canada and United States. (More’s the pity they are not in the Aotearoa contingent headed for the mighty Pacific Arts Festival in Solomon Islands in July.) Their performance is a thrilling affair, radiating power and beauty, dignity and spirit, wit and grace. It’s a knock-out.
These are 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students in the Performing Arts degree course, but have all the aplomb and confidence of a seasoned professional troupe. Live music of drumming and vocals are as good as you’ll get. It’s heartening to witness the integration of these arts, never torn apart before so don’t have to be re-assembled now. Lucky young citizens, and they know it.
The Maori work (Byron Taufao) is immaculate. Quivering with wiri are a moving lament, a lively poi, fine waiata-a-ringa, and bloodcurdling haka. The Samoan work (Tupe Lualua) is visionary, with an exquisite thread of traditional imagery folding through historical transformation, to a gentle lyricism. The Cook Islands work (Tuaine Robati) is by turns sensuous and triumphant. It includes the All Blacks coup at the World Cup, with Carter’s groin and McCaw’s foot injuries not forgottten. Hilarious. The contemporary work (Paora Taurima) is inventive, witty and accessible (a rarer achievement than you might think in dance-making.)
The range and contrast of many costumes, designed by Tuaine Robati, are absolutely breathtaking, the best in Pasifika fashion. Made of pandanus, shell, feathers and cloth, head-dresses and adornments, the items number in their hundreds. We are sitting close enough to see the warp and weft of it all, and not a single stitch malfunctions the entire evening. That’s a miracle. The fact that all the performers are equally convincing in each dance style is another triumph.
If you are feeling cold and sorry for yourself, there are two performances on Saturday. Cheaper than a ‘flu injection and a hundred times the fun…
Whitireia should aspire to forming a Graduate Company that could then pursue every opportunity nationally, in the Pacific, and the wider world. Creative New Zealand could not do better than fund them as cultural ambassadors.
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