ASB Waterfront Theatre, 138 Halsey St, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland

07/06/2019 - 07/06/2019

Production Details

Leeches follows nine award-winning and internationally acclaimed dancers and their experiences living the modern experience of being Kiwi and Pasifika; their turmoils and triumphs of living in a Euro-centric country.

The performers take on character roles of members of society to reflect and challenge how the modern Pasifika person is perceived by one another and New Zealanders. In light of recent rhetoric in the New Zealand media regarding the Pacific Islands being “leeches… only wanting money from us,” the performance questions whether the remarks are justified considering both current and historical relationships and events between New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

Pacific Dance NZ is governed by the Pacific Islands Dance Fono Trust and was formed in 2010. Pacific Dance NZ exists to foster and encourage traditional and contemporary Pacific dance development initiatives across New Zealand. Our core programmes are the Artist in Residence, Choreographic Lab, School Holiday and Education Programmes, various Community Dance Projects and the Pacific Dance Festival. In its fourth year, this is the first time the Pacific Dance Festival has premiered a show into the heart of Auckland City. www.pacificdance.co.nz



Performers: Braedyn Togi, Connor "OOSHCON" Masseurs, Elijah Kennar, Faith Schuster, Jahra "Rager" Wasasala, Sione Fataua, Taniora Motutere, Tori Manley-Tapu, Aloali'i Tapu

Pasifika contemporary dance , Dance-theatre , Dance , Contemporary dance ,

60 minutes

Outstanding performances in dance debut

Review by Raewyn Whyte 10th Jun 2019

NZ Herald version: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/culture/news/article.cfm?c_id=544&objectid=12238695


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Alluring imagery, skilful choreography

Review by Nicole Wilkie 08th Jun 2019

LEECHES, performed as part of the Pacific Dance Festival 2019, explores how modern Pasifika people living in New Zealand are perceived both by one another and by other New Zealanders. The dancers take on various societal roles to both reflect upon and challenge the perceptions people hold. Lead by Aloalii Tapu and utilising his signature movement practice ‘Lofty Release’, these dancers work together to create a work that is full of alluring imagery and skilful choreography.

The movement vocabulary is defined from the beginning of the show and it is built upon for the duration, with choreographic motifs recognisable to the audience creating a sense of cohesion. This work establishes itself early on and it is clear that the ideologies influencing the movement have been thoroughly explored and considered by all of the performers. They all move within the same world of choreography, yet we clearly see each of the dancers’ individual identities.

The performance begins with the curtains raising to reveal the stage floor covered in a massive sheet of white paper, which lends itself to a satisfying live soundscape throughout the show as the dancers glide over the paper. This, paired with the incredible sound design created by Eden Mulholland, gives way to a unique aural experience for the audience that complements the movement beautifully. The lighting design by Jo Kilgour also works in harmony with the movement – the lighting is often subtle and is used effectively to highlight key points of the piece, creating some wonderful visually arresting moments.

It is evident that all of the performers in this piece are adept in their craft and they work well to truly embody the concepts that their movement represents. We see a seamless blending of Pasifika-influenced movement, contemporary dance and Lofty Release all building a specific movement world. These dancers commit themselves fully to the realisation of this world. We are also treated to humour in this piece, which is a credit to the performers and their versatility. The piece moves from angular, precise robotic gesture, to mesmerising, fluid rolling movement, juxtaposed against games and competition between the dancers and a powerfully delivered spoken word by Jahra ‘Rager’ Wasasala towards the end of the work. Other highlights of this piece are the swirling, captivating duet performed by Faith Schuster and Sione Fataua, as they dance together face-to-face with a seductive kind of curiosity; and the solo performed by Elijah Kennar after being doused in water by the other dancers – he shows precise articulation, he is fluid and delicate in his movement yet his strength is obvious and his performance is enrapturing.

LEECHES shares with its audience real stories about the relationships between Kiwis and Pasifika people in our current societal climate, and it achieves this with a unique choreographic vocabulary, humour and subtle yet effective sound and set design. I hope that this talented young collective get the chance to perform this work to more audiences in the future, and I eagerly anticipate the next offering from Aloalii Tapu and Friends.


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