Pacific Dance Choreolab 2013

Mangere Arts Centre, Auckland

02/11/2013 - 02/11/2013

Southside Festival 2013

Production Details

Pacific Dance NZ congratulates this year’s successful candidates to choreograph in the 2013 Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory.

This year’s successful candidates are: Amo IerikoSantana Schmidt and Nikki Upoko.

They will be working with a number of selected dancers (also to be announced) to devise and create three original works to show at the Mangere Arts Centre on Saturday 2nd November at 7pm.

All applicants must be of Pacific Islands descent, be an emerging to mid-career choreographer, demonstrate in their submission that they will be able to complete the choreographic lab and submit a new work that has not been performed previously. This is a wonderful opportunity for Pacific Islands choreographers to create new works and have it promoted and developed.

The three choreographers selected for the choreographic lab will be provided with:

• A dance studio equipped with a sound system

• Dancers

• A mentor

• An allowance during the three-week choreographic lab

• Publicity and promotional opportunities

Each work will be presented at the closing night of the Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab 2013 to be held at the Mangere Arts Centre – Nga Tohu o Uenuku in Mangere on Saturday the 2nd of November.

This project will be presented as part of the Southside Arts Festival 2013 on 2 November at Mangere Arts Centre.

To book tickets, please follow this link –

Vavau - Ele'Ele. Chronicles of Saofaileta - choreographed by Amo Ieriko
Dancers: Katerina Fatupaito, Clare Allen, Paula Mohenoa with Musician Bab Savea and Historian Ivapene Saofaileta Ieriko

Vaine Toa - choreographed by Nikki Upoko
Dancers: Nikki Upoko, Hereiti Makiteiaa, Tavai Puni, Tautape Samson

#Hashtag - choreographed by Santana Schmidt
Dancers: Pauline Hiroti, Mele Taeiloa, Julie Nanai-Williams, Riki Nofo'akifolau, Vivian Aue, Aisea Latu, Antonio Matagi, Sigmund Kaufusi, Xavier Breed

1 hour

Distinctive voices, sources, movement and styling

Review by Raewyn Whyte 03rd Nov 2013

The past three weeks in Auckland have provided an informal mini-festival of Pacific contemporary dance which can only have whetted appetites for more of the same. Tempo presented works from an array of local Pacific performance groups and emerging independents in partnership with Pacific Dance New Zealand, providing a chance to survey this rapidly growing sector in works from Aruna Po Ching with Pasifika Sway, Charlene Tedrow with Ura Tabu, Olivia Taouma with Lima Productions, Amanaki Prescott-Faletau, Nita Latu, Milly Grant, Tia Sagapolutele and Metu Toso, Mario Faumui, and Tepaeru-Ariki Lulu French. Tempo also brought Fatu na Toto, the first Auckland performance by Porirua-based Le Moana Productions, and this week has seen the premiere of a new work from Lima Dance Theatre, Home, Land and Sea.

This extraordinarily rich mini-festival closed with the showing of three new Pacific Island contemporary dance works in progress which have just emerged from Pacific Dance Choreolab 2013, the fifth in this annual series.

These three new works each present distinctive personal voices, cultural sources, movement vocabularies and styling.

Va’vau – Ele’Ele. Chronicles of Saofaileta, by choreographer Amo Ieriko, is built around an historic incident in his family’s village of Vavau, in Samoa. The dance explores events at a time when beach fales were built on top of ancestral burial grounds, resulting in strange and disturbing experiences and the necessary removal of the bones for reburial on Mount Vavau. The dance has a strongly ritual feel, maintaining a slow pace throughout, under dim, blue lighting. Three dancers dressed in grey emerge from the dark accompanied by haunting nose flute melodies played by Bob Savea.

The dancers (Katerina Fatupaito, Clare Allen and Paulo Mohenoa) are clustered into what at first resembles a monumental rock with curved furrows. At the side of the stage, Amo Ieriko shovels sand from one pile to another, and the dancers slowly shift and move and climb over one another til the rock has dissolved into a tangled pile of bones. A muffled drum and some other percussive sounds follow and the next image to emerge from the shifting cluster is of a huge crab with pincers raised, as if protecting the bones from further disturbance. This cycle repeats, ensuring the imagery is burned into the memories of the audience.  The choreographer says this is Phase 2 of a longer work in development

By contrast, Nikki Upolo’s Vaine Toa is a rapidly moving, brightly lit, upbeat blend of Cook Islands cultural forms and contemporary dance structuring set to a recorded musical collage. Dancers  Nikki Upoko, Hereiti Makiteiaa, Tavai Puni and Tautape Samson move confidently through its paces whether performing as an ensemble or in cameo solos which show the choreographer’s care and attention to every little detail. The traditional forms range widely, with the essentials given due respect, yet there is a subtle blending in of street and contemporary dance movements, and some refreshingly bold fragmentation of the traditional phrasing, frontality and spatial patterning. The end result is a new dance that is most definitely of this current time and place, and one which certainly reveals the stated themes — the inner strength of women, and women as the backbone of their people.

And yet another strong contrast is presented by Santana Schmidt’s #Hashtag in which street styling blends into everyday life with a contemporary dance backbone. Music is again a recorded collage which incorporates blocks of silnce for spoken interchanges.. The nine performers (Pauline Hiroti, Mele Taeiloa, Julie Nanai-Williams, Riki Nofo’akifolau, Vivian Aue, Aisea Latu, Antonio Matagi, Sigmund Kaufusi, Xavier Breed) are very confident movers, well able to work into and out of the floor, jump, fall and lift with ease. There’s a good deal of (mostly clearly audible) ironic text also delivered in spoken form, including a poem delivered by Aisea Latu.  

As you might guess from the title, the dance examines aspects of social networking obsession drawn from the cast’s experiences with Twitter and Facebook. The dance moves quickly, presenting a series of fluid social relationships which morph and munge constantly, accompanied by alternately #cutting_or_kind_judgements delivered by mimed txt messaging. Though it focusses on questions such as where this relentless activity is leading us all, and why we get so addicted to such forms of communication, the dance wisely leaves the answers open.

The new works which emerge from Pacific Dance Choreolab often continue their development to become more substantial works, and it is likely that these three dances will follow that pathway. 


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