Pele - Goddess of Fire
02/12/2023 - 02/12/2023
Artistic Director and Producer - ARUNA KEKEHA PO-CHING
Script Consultant and Music - BLAINE KAMALANI KIA
Written and Adapted - ARUNA KEKEHA PO-CHING
Choreographer - ARUNA KEKEHA PO-CHING, BLAINE KAMALANI KIA
Music Arrangement - ARUNA KEKEHA PO-CHING
Hālau Ka Waikahe Lani Mālie (The Hula Journey)
Hālau Ka Waikahe Lani Mālie presents New Zealand’s first-ever dance theatre production of Hawaii’s infamous mythological figure, Pele: Goddess of Fire.
Story: Pele, the Goddess of Fire, falls into a deep sleep travelling throughout the islands of Hawai’i. When Pele arrives on the island of Kaua’i, she meets the charming Prince Lohiau’ipo, who falls deeply in love with the beautiful and mysterious stranger.
This theatrical production from Aotearoa’s first officially sanctioned hula school combines music, traditional and modern hula, drama and chants to bring you the story of Pele from Auckland’s community of hula students.
Te Pou Theatre, 2 Mt Lebanon Lane, Henderson, Auckland
Saturday 2 December 2023
PAKEKE (Adult) $35.00
KAUMĀTUA (Gold Card) $25.00
HAPORI (Community Services, Equity) – ID required $25.00
RŌPŪ (6+) $28.00
TAUIRA (Student) – ID required $25.00
TAMAITI (Under 12) $20.00
Pele - Goddess of Fire—ROBERTA PERESE
Prince Lohiau’ipo—ASH TIRAHA
Hi’iaka - Goddess of Hula—SESIKA FINAU
Namaka - Goddess of the sea—TANIORA ATAMA
Kapoulakina'u - Goddess of Sorcery/Fertility—MELIAME KEKE JACKSON
Hopoe—TONI PENINA TALAMAIVAO
Pa'uopalapalae—XARA JULIETTE PICKERING
CALEB KAY, EMILY WOODWARD, EVA MACGREGOR, GILDA SOBERANO-FRANCISCO, JANE GUDSELL, LEONORA O'LOUGHLIN, LAISA PICKERING, MELIAME KEKE JACKSON, MERRY FINAU, MIKIKO PICKERING IPSEN, MURIEL KUOPPALA, NATHAN SIKOTI-NAIK, PAULINA BENTLEY, ROSEY FELTHAM, SALLY TUIOTI, SAM HARAWIRA, SHELLY AIYAZ, TANIORA ATAMA, TASHA DALTON, TONI PENINA TALAMAIVAO, TUI HIBBS, XARA JULIETTE PICKERING
Set Designer—LAISA PICKERING
Head of Costumes—MIKIKO PICKERING-IPSEN
Stage Manager—MARLINA THOMPSON
Music Arrangement—ARUNA KEKEHA PO-CHING
Lighting Designer —ARUNA KEKEHA PO-CHING
Costumes Assist—CAROLYN SLADE, LAISA PICKERING, JANE GUDSELL, NATHAN SIKOTI-NAIK
Lighting Operator—ZANE ALLEN
Musician—MILA (MILZ) PO-CHING (Music Assist)
Community-based theatre , Cultural activation , Dance , Dance-theatre , Hawaiian hula (ancient and modern) , Pacific traditional dance forms , Pasifika contemporary dance ,
Spiritual essence, ancestral stories
Review by Iatua Richard Felagai Taito 04th Dec 2023
Walking in and hearing the beautiful music that feels very ancestral and angelic as I sit down, the first thing I see is the volcano which symbolises Pele – Goddess of Fire – the title of the performance. While everyone finds their seats, I wait and start to ponder on the minimalist staging. It is clean and simple. The performance starts with the massive ensemble Hālau Ka Waikahe Lani Mālie o Aotearoa. They fill up the space with a strong hula.
The Hawaiian chants start to resonate around the room. The audience feels so captivated that someone behind me is filming, showing how mesmerising this dance show is. At the end I realise they felt the urge to keep recording from start to finish.
As the Hawaiian chants finish, the Kumu Hula, Aruna Kekeha Po-Ching starts to eloquently tell the story of Pele about the adventures that occur with frequent Hula from ancient to modern. This constant flux and flow between the dance forms is powerful.
As I sit and watch the art form which is Hula, it emphasises the point of relationships and why it is integral as Pacific people. A Hawaiian saying comes to mind: “Ahuwale ka po’okela i kāu hana iā ha’i” in translation this means ‘It is through the way you serve others that your greatness will be felt”.
This Hawaiian saying rings true when the story unfolds from the Kumu who continues as the narrator. The dancers embody and act the dialogue that is being said. They bring forth the understanding of Pele who starts to sit in her culture and we experience their camaraderie within this kaupapa.
This is especially so with Pele embodying Hula in a duet with Prince Lohiau’ipo in the production. This section is greatly thought out. The way both of them and the ensemble occupy the space shows what a strong aesthetic can look like through a performative lens. They definitely deliver aesthetically. The music uplifts the setting and makes me and the audience feel connected with the dancers and the story.
Constructively though, as a theatre trained actor and a Drama major graduate, the narrator speaking whilst the performers are embodying what is said, needs the cues to be tighter and more concise.
Despite this fact the highlights are: Hawaiian hulas that traverse moments of lament, celebration, contemporary worlds, spiritual essence, ancestral stories and flirtatious and beautiful moments to create an effervescent atmosphere for us as the audience to receive and take away from this dance show.
The Hawaiian saying (Ahuwale ka po’okela i kāu hana iā ha’i) is what remains and what is felt – the notion of service and the way the performers intertwine with theatre, dance, chants and each other – shows that Hawaiian creativity and aesthetic is needed more in Aotearoa’s creative arts.
Overall such a great family show for all ages to watch and understand the story of Pele. Ngā mihi nui to the artistic director, producer, music director Aruna Kekeha Po-Ching and script consultant and music manager Blaine Kamalani. Kia ora for allowing an intimate but powerful show at Te Pou theatre.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer