KAHA: Short Works (2012)

Playhouse, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, Hamilton

25/05/2012 - 26/05/2012

Q Theatre, Rangatira, Auckland

21/06/2012 - 23/06/2012

Great Lakes Centre, Taupo

13/05/2012 - 13/05/2012

Production Details

Eight short works choreographed by members of the company. 

Artistic Director Moss Patterson presents three NEW short works: Haka, a contemporary work fusing strong traditional movement; Moko, a fast full-cast piece, exploring the art of body tattoo; and Koru inspired by the spiral design, as seen in Maori art. 

A favourite excerpt from Ngai Tahu 32 choreographed by former Atamira member Louise Potiki-Bryant is a special feature, and Jack Gray explores new territory in his provocative new contemporary piece, Mitimiti.

Drawing inspiration from the mythical patupaiarehe, Piata, Taane Mete’s work, is a heart-wrenching female solo exploring the idea of an entity existing between two worlds.

Kelly Nash presents a compelling new high-vibe work choreographed to drum ‘n bass.

Completing the programme is a full stage, full cast version of the popular dance Poi E Thriller. This much loved dance from the smash-hit New Zealand movie BOY, is choreographed by longstanding Atamira member Dolina Wehipeihana. It’s combination of kapa haka and Michael Jackson moves, is a catchy toe-tapper! POI E!

Click here to view excerpts from HOU 2012, featuring Haka, Moko, Piata & Mitimiti.

Choreographers: Moss Patterson, Jack Gray, Taane Mete, Kelly Nash, Louise Potiki-Bryant & Dolina Wehipeihana
Lighting Design: Vanda Karolczak
Dancers: Taiaroa Royal, Jack Gray, Mark Bonnington, Kelly Nash, Nancy Wijohn, Bianca Hyslop & Daniel Cooper


Taupo: May 13th, 6:30pm, Crater Room, Great Lakes Centre (as part of the Erupt Lake Taupo Festival). Book at TICKETEK (0800 TICKETEK or www.ticketek.co.nz) 

Rotorua: May 23rd, 7.30pm, Rotorua Civic Theatre. Book at Ticketmaster 0800 111 999 or www.ticketmaster.co.nz

Hamilton: 25-26 May, 7.30pm, Playhouse Theatre. Book at TICKETEK 

Dancers: Taiaroa Royal, Jack Gray, Mark Bonnington, Kelly Nash, Nancy Wijohn, Bianca Hyslop & Daniel Cooper.

Lighting Design: Vanda Karolczak

90 mins

Review: Kaha Short Works for Matariki

Review by Raewyn Whyte 26th Jun 2012

A rich sampling mix of eight short works collectively titled KAHA earned a standing ovation for Atamira Dance Company on opening night at Q, marking the first day of Matariki 2012 in fine style, and also celebrating the company’s 11th year. The programme offers an array of works, from the purely cultural to the seriously contemporary, and in between a mix of excerpts from repertoire and new commissions.

Three works by artistic director Moss Paterson are derived from Maori cultural traditions, but each has its own innovative twist. The openingHaka for six dancers is based on the Tuwharetoa haka Wairangi, performed very close to the ground – at times conjuring up piles of huge boulders or rolling clouds of steam.

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Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa : Let us keep close together, not far apart.

Review by Dr Tia Reihana-Morunga 22nd Jun 2012

For the rising of Matariki we came together at the Q Theatre in ceremony to acknowledge the Atarmira Dance Company. Together, we experienced KAHA a series of short works, part of the company’s HOU 2012 season.

The evening marked the beginning of Matariki, and KAHA provided the opportunity to share the harvests of our talented Tangata whenua, witness the new beginnings of dancers and choreography, learn about the people of Aotearoa, the whenua, and remember our whakapapa and those who leave legacy in our ancestry.

Seven stars of Matariki, seven artists on stage including artistic director Moss Patterson, who provided for the audience warm and welcoming kaupapa kōrero between the choreographic works. I was thankful for this, as the programme lacked ability to share the mana that comes from hearing the narratives attached to some of these choreographic pieces. For example, Haka ‘Wairangi’ is, as choreographer Moss Patterson explained, a haka taught to him by his kuia when he was a tama tane to give him connection and strength to whenua and whanau… It all begins with a spotlight, a cluster of dancers as one moves slowly towards us and lays down a stone, pounamu, an anchor to guide the waka of movement that is about to set sail within the somewhat formal setting of the Q Theatre..  The sound of taonga puoro, the wairua of the pūrerehua, the mihi of the rangatira, was an appropriate opening to connect dancers with the space, each other, wairua, tupuna and audience as they moved within set formations that employed variations of canon, gesture and relationships.

Koru another work by Moss followed, the koru, the unfurling fern reminding us of new beginnings, life, Matariki. The choreographer’s relationship to kowhaiwhai and the continuum of line are seen in this revised work. Bought to life by Nancy Wijohn, Kelly Nash and Taiaroa Royal (a somewhat heavenly combination to see moving on stage) they overlap, circle, fold, cross and trace each other and the many pathways of the koru that are seen and felt within. Again as audience we are gathered close to Moss as he shares through his choreography his kinship of whanau and whakapapa.

Ngai Tahu 32 is a glimpse of the full length work from Louise Potiki-Bryant. A signature piece from the Atamira repertoire we return to the story of her tupuna Wiremu Potiki. There is something un-urgent about the work of Potiki-Bryant, embedded in mana wahine the movement is patient, free from composed sequencing as Jack Gray captures us within his commitment centre stage. This work asks something from me as audience whilst observing loaded moments where dancers flank, bound, border with rope, light and space. The dancer’s movements constructed a narrative tainted with the effects of colonisation. What surges through with Jack Gray, is the soul, and I feel that I am able to perhaps capture some of the affliction, adversity and strength of the story told.

Mitimiti the current work of Jack Gray lifts an avant garde lid off the bucket that contains themes of colonisation, urbanisation and globalisation. What might it look, sound and feel like today for Tangata whenua and New Zealander’s collectively? Enriched through the diverse environments of Los Angeles and Mitimiti, North Hokianga… we perhaps see on stage Gray’s creative internal conversation that emerged from each, gumboots and all. Dispossession of land has resulted in a loss of voice throughout the history of Aotearoa, New Zealand. Often throughout the performance we see loss of communication and Kōrero, especially as dancer Bianca Hyslop lets out endless muffles, groans and grunts in fusion with gesture to the microphone… Spasms of sentences emerge from other dancers as do movement sequences that perhaps identify different facets of society and stereotypes. Are we all of these people? Did I see something of myself on stage? I was looking into a fish bowl of colour that combined Gray’s experiences in returning home to Mitimiti and his travels to the States. An eclectic, disorientated, humorous collage of movements where unison was often squashed with moments of the absurd… Life in an urban, globalised society can be absurd… we can be absurd, I get that… and thus feel a warmth to the characters on stage navigating such realities.

Indigenarchy…My husband leans across and whispers in my ear, “This is awesome” I agree as I watch the kinaesthetic collaboration of indigenous movements on the tinana and see flashes of others from elsewhere in the world. The held positions of hands and feet by dancers Jack Gray, Nancy Wijohn, Mark Bonnington and Taiaroa Royal dominate as they move with a colourful rug that may resemble a magic carpet travelling with audience to various places in the world. Choreographer Kelly Nash explores the image of indigenous identity and proceeds to present these replicated images to the audience triggering responses of familiarity. The choreography of Nash is crowded with cross-cultural conversations that fade to the solo dancer under spotlight, an effective visual and finish to a work that was created in 20 hours. Tu meke!

Piata, myth and legend, history and whakapapa… The choreography of Taane Mete, inspired by stories shared by kaumatua that tell of the patupaiarehe people. The work is beautiful. ..Mete brings to stage a sense of magic that refutes “soft and happy ideals” as we witness the ongoing struggles of a being within the cycle of breath, contraction, tension and low level exploration.  Dancer Bianca Hyslop is strong and worthy of the stage as solo dancer. Her continuity within the choreography, the sounds from her body, her connection to mood and wairua successfully extended to audience the idea in the existence of something other, and in between.

Moko by Moss Patterson, inspired by ta moko practices, reconnects us with the continuum of kowhaiwhai pathways that exist within Maori art.  From our marae to our body the kowhaiwhai connect us to whakapapa and this is a strong source of creative construction for Patterson. In homage to ta moko tohunga the choreography is fastened by body part connection that communicates relationships and kinship as dancers move in a series of lifts, turns and rolls. Dancers continuously move towards the other and then pull away in which to initiate new beginnings. . .

Poi E Thriller – A favourite… complete with a back spinning break dancing Moss Patterson, Sparkled gloves, 80’s high street fashion, pelvic thrusts, wiri, pukana, and glitter… Only in Aotearoa, New Zealand would we see this fusion… loaded into our hearts because of the movie Boy and kept alive by Atamira.  Choreographed by Dolina Wehipeihana and dedicated to the memory of Patea Maori Club founding member and Poi E leading lady ‘Nany Hui Kahu’ what a perfect ending to an evening that fostered thoughts of new beginnings.

In conclusion, it is said that depending on the visibility of Matariki in the night sky, the coming season’s crop could to be determined. The brighter the stars indicated the warmer the season would be and thus more productive crop. If we were to take this understanding and place it within the Q Theatre and the performance of KAHA by Atamira Dance Company, we see that the future gardens of Maori contemporary dance in Aotearoa and overseas are going to be abundant.

Nga mihi

Tia Reihana-Morunga.


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Eclectic, dynamic and at times confrontational.

Review by Brenda Rae Kidd 26th May 2012

To celebrate the Matariki New Year period, Atamira are bringing new work together with the old.

To start the evening, a pounamu gifted by musician Richard Nunns, is treasured and delivered to the front of the stage symbolizing the spirituality of the dance troupe.  The group feels more inclusive – more like whanau.

Artistic Director Moss Patterson in an interview on Te Karare speaks of not forgetting where you come from, but also of finding new ways to express yourself.

This is evident in the body of work that is KAHA.  Eclectic, dynamic and at times confrontational.

Mitimiti choreographed by Jack Gray is especially poignant as issues of colonisation and global influences are explored from an indigenous perspective.  Discordant music overlaps spoken word and bodies contort.  Powerful indeed.

It is inspiring to watch patriarchs of contemporary Māori dance, Taiaroa Royal and Jack Gray, bring their depth and experience to Atamira.

The dancers individually possess strength, not only physical and this is obvious in their movement.  Bianca Hyslop, in Piata, embodies the spirit of the mythical Patupairehe  (fairies) who dwell in the fringe between darkness and light

A shout out to Nancy Wijohn who has quite the stage presence – it’s not surprising she started her career as an athlete. 

Moko, a homage to Ta Moko artists and inspired by the work of Inia Taylor, explores the rite of passage and the intricacies of this ancient art form. Dancers movements swirl like moko design.

Long time musical collaborator Paddy Free works his magic in Ngai Tahu 32, a mesmerising piece by Louise Potiki-Bryant. The music throughout is as eclectic as the dance, from alt contemporary, drum n bass to classical. There is also a nod to 80’s dance hit Poi E.

As the dancers leave the stage a beautiful mihi from an audience member acknowledges the gift they have left us with.  I, for one, feel very blessed.

Thank you Atamira.


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