Aumaga & Shel We? double bill

Pātaka Art + Museum, 17 Parumoana Street, Porirua

01/12/2016 - 03/12/2016

Measina Festival 2016

Production Details

Aumaga – Le Moana

Choreographed by Andy Tilo

“Aumaga – O le ivitū o le tātou āiga”

Referred to as the backbone of the family and village in Sāmoa, Le Moana’s latest dance piece explores the world of the untitled mens’ collective, the Aumaga. Choreographed by Andy Tilo, Aumaga explores the spaces inhabited by the ‘untitled’ men of the village, through their service and commitment to family and culture.

In collaboration with Tupe Lualua, Andy choreographed Le Moana’s most recent work “1918” which premiered in Wellington and then remounted for follow up seasons at the Mangere Arts Centre in Auckland and at the National University of Sāmoa. ‘1918’ was most recently presented at the San Diego International Fringe Festival, receiving rave reviews, winning the critics choice award and also the top box office award for the Spreckles Theater.

Dancers: Isitolo Alesana, Andy Tilo, Rikki Tofi, Nuhaka Numanga, Tofifailauga Misa, Jacob Ioapo


Shel We? – Those Guys  


Choreographed by Tupua Tigāfua

Shel We? is inspired by Shel Silverstein, The Light up the Attic, Where the Side Walk Ends and The Giving Tree.

I enjoy the wit, humour, and drawings he has in his books. I also enjoy his music, so I made a dance about how that makes me feel.

By Shel Silverstein

If you are a dreamer come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar…..
A hop-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.
Come in!Come in!
Dancers: Eddie Fabian Elliott, Sean MacDonald, Taniora Rangi Motutere, Joshua Phillip Faleatua, Kosta Bogoievski, Tupua Tigafua.

“Tigafua choreographs some strong rhythmic sequences, which he intersperses with slapstick shenanigans and the use of several props. He utilises a contemporary vocabulary that is fresh and appealing…” – Jenny Stevenson, DANZ (DANZ)


Aumaga: Isitolo Alesana, Andy Tilo, Rikki Tofi, Nuhaka Numanga, Tofifailauga Misa, Jacob Ioapo

Pasifika contemporary dance , Dance , Contemporary dance ,

1 hour

Male energy to the max, humour to the fore

Review by Chris Jannides 05th Dec 2016

The Pataka Art & Museum in Porirua are hosting the Measina Festival, billed as a platform for contemporary Pacific artists working in theatre, dance and music. Four dance works are featured in this year’s programme and are split into two double bills. This review is of the contributions by the ensembles Le Moana and Those Guys.

Aumaga is performed by Le Moana, who are a collective of Whitireia Performing Arts graduates as well as the organisers of the festival. Choreography is by Andy Tilo who also dances in the work, joined by Isitolo Alesana, Rikki Tofi, Nuhaka Numanga, Tofifailauga Misa and Jacob Ioapo. The theme is the ‘untitled’ men in a Samoan village who are acknowledged for ‘their service and commitment to family and culture’. The costumes, music and setting depict a traditional lifestyle. The work ultimately celebrates male energy.

As an art form, dance does lots of things, one of which is to excite. This is a clear objective of Tilo’s choreography here. The piece is divided into four parts, most of which centre round the presence of one dancer who bears the status of a leader or chief. Performance skills are high. Much of the action is fast-paced. Male energy is pushed to the max. Boisterous, exuberant, showy, lots of sharpness, leaping, flying, twirling, wild, endurance driven. Warrior poses and stances interspersed with variations of traditional Samoan slap dance movements. Secure choreographic ensemble structures with good use made of canon. The sections of pure dance are framed by mime sequences. These are to do with simple social situations and ceremonies and convey a sense of environment and narrative. 

Contemporary indigenous dance in NZ liberally mixes traditional styles from particular Maori or Pacific Island cultures with movement vocabularies and techniques from 20th century European and American modern dance. In the hands of Pacifica dance artists, this hybridised approach favours particular qualities, these being clarity and dynamics. There is an emphasis on entertainment, virtuosity and visual impact. There is also an ability to put together lots of ’steps’, which highlights a joy in inventiveness when it comes to making up movement sequences. With lots of good movement, tightly performed, dance doesn’t need to do much else in order to justify its existence. 

Aumaga has plenty of attractive movement sequences and sits strongly within its contemporary indigenous dance heritage. Its weakness might be its overall shape. It finishes abruptly. There is a sense of dissatisfaction in the women’s presence. The beautiful female solo at the end to which the rest of the cast pay homage seems to collapse rather than elevate a feeling of fulfilment and completion.

The second item in the double bill is Tupua Tigafua’s Shel We?, in which he performs with five other men – Eddie Fabian Elliot, Sean McDonald, Taniora Rangi Motutere, Joshua Phillip Faleatua and Kosta Bogoievski – the group going under the collective title of Those Guys.

Men dominate once again. Along with excellent dancing, humour is at the forefront of this work. The style is absurdist and comical. We get a story of sorts. A Chaplinesque character shadowed by a company of other moustachioed clones goes on a sea journey, drowns, becomes a ghost and waves goodbye to his life lost. At least, that’s what I made of it.

Influences stick out of the piece from all directions. Imagery is laced with ‘dancing’. Music ranges from Pacific Island singing to banjos, birds twittering, classical music, storm sounds. Video projections of a large moon, the milky way and a shooting star; a model of an old sail boat with lights in it bobs and bounces through the night as it is carried across a turbulent sea of human heads with lights attached to them. I particularly love the image of a demented man in a green light holding branches who becomes a tree, then turns into a prancing antlered animal when another man becomes its body and tail. 

There is quizzicality and innocence in the demeanours of these characters that pushes the piece into the territory of naive art. The child-like oddity and humour is summed up by a very funny moment when Tigafua, alone on stage, puts a blanket over his head with eye-holes cut out and emits a ‘wooo’ sound, immediately echoed by the rest of the cast responding with a chorus of ‘woooo’s’ from offstage.

The merits in this work are numerous. Finesse, superb technical skills, experienced performers completely at ease with what they have to do. Alongside the literal elements in the work, the dance movements and choreography is assured, well-crafted and clever. Tigafua possesses a highly theatrical imagination and a liking for clearly-defined movement that uses the full-bodied energies of the male dancer. This is a signature quality identified above in Pacifica contemporary dance, with Tigafua taking it to higher levels of sophistication and originality. I want to see more from this choreographer, particularly if it’s unique.

Tonight’s programme has a quality to it that reminds me of the well-known all-male Japanese dance troupe World Order. The Japanese performers dressed as business men, whose works are often performed outdoors in city streets, have a characteristic signature move that is a slow-motion front-focused walk. Putting time in their stride, it is full of purpose. Tilo’s choreography makes similar use of men striving to walk and run in purposeful unison. Tigafua is attracted to the insignia of the suits. The Measina Festival opens a contemporary indigenous platform for the many influences penetrating and intermingling this part of our planet. A clash and confusion of cultures becomes fusion. It is the new world order for here. Such artists are slowly forging a way forward. 


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