The Civic - Auckland Live, Auckland

12/03/2016 - 12/03/2016

Auckland Arts Festival 2016

Production Details


A collaboration between Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Atamira Dance Company, presented in association with Auckland Arts Festival

Gareth Farr Ruaumoko, ‘South Pacific Seasons’
Paddy Free Soundscape artist

A modern Maori fairytale emerges from the depths of a sacred mountain.

 Gareth Farr’s Ruaumoko is an expression of Aotearoa’s different seasons interspersed with percussion interludes – the Ruaumoko, or earthquakes. Expect earthquakes of an artistic kind in this arts spectacle that combines the talents and expertise of professional performers with the energy and exuberance of youth.

Ruaumoko, the fifth annual Auckland Dance Project, uses Gareth Farr’s work to provide the basis for a beautiful new story that centres around Hine Ariki, a turehu (fairy), and her encounters with mythical forces and creatures within her sacred mountain..

 An explosion of music and dance with over 100 students, Atamira Dance Company dancers and the full force of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. For and by New Zealanders of all ages.

Earthquakes of an artistic kind / Youthful exuberance / Māori deities given new forms

A story for our time, Ruaumoko follows heroine Hine Ariki, a turehu (fairy) who sets out on a quest to calm the rumblings of Ruaumoko, god of the earthquakes. Something has disturbed the peace and caused the earth to shift.  Hine Ariki draws on the winds, the rain, mythical creatures and her inner-strength to restore the balance and fulfill her mission.

Bringing 100 new, young performers together with professional mentors, Ruaumoko is a magical collaboration that showcases the energies and creative potential of Auckland youth; it’s metamorphosis on a mass-scale. Joining forces with Atamira Dance Company and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, these fledgling dancers aged 5 to 25 from all across Auckland transform themselves into the enchanting characters of this newly imagined Māori myth.

Arts Laureate Gareth Farr’s earth-shattering composition, Paddy Free’s spacious sound design, Moss Patterson’s choreography and kapa haka form the bedrock for this beautifully rendered dance work.  

A collaboration between Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Atamira Dance Company, presented in association with Auckland Arts Festival.

  • SAT 12, 5:00pm
DURATION 45mins no interval
VENUE The Civic
PRICE $15 – $25

Maori contemporary dance , Family , Dance-theatre , Dance , Children’s ,

45 mins

Ticking all the boxes

Review by Raewyn Whyte 16th Mar 2016

From my vantage point high up in the circle, the finer points of the narrative drawn from a Maori  legend involving turehu/fairy Hine Ariki, evil sorcerer Whiro te Tipua and Ruamoko, god of earthquakes and volcanoes, were not easy to follow, but the commitment of the dancers was never in doubt.  They crawled, ran, hunkered down as if to make themselves invisible, took on angular distorted shapes, flew into the air, and dived headlong at their peers, trusting they’d be safely caught. Every now and then, one dancer or another was raised high above the mass, as if gaining a vantage point to scope out danger, or  suddenly a mass wheeling formation would sweep the enemy from the path ahead, and a small, foetal-curved very young dancer would be picked up from the floor, carried like a tiny kitten to safety.

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Massive. Magical.

Review by Carrie Rae Cunningham 15th Mar 2016

There is one word to describe Ruaumoko:  MASSIVE.  A massive cast, massive set, massive music and a massive undertaking.  With a cast of over 100, comprised of two professional dance companies (Atamira and Hawaiki TU), University of Auckland dance students and primary/secondary students from four different schools (Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Te Kotuku, Green Bay High School, James Cook High School and Mellons Bay School), the stage is swarming with energetic bodies that pulse, dive, ripple and rumble.  They are dancing earthquakes, after all.

Add to that a 70-strong Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra performing a dramatic beast of a composition by Gareth Farr and you’ve got an even more massive undertaking.  Four weeks of rehearsals and three production days later you’ve got Ruaumoko, The 2016 Auckland Dance Project.

Ruaumoko is the unborn child of Ranginui and Papatuanuku who remained in the womb after the Sky Father and Earth Mother were separated.  He is the god of earthquakes (to anyone who has been pregnant, this makes perfect sense).  The story goes that Ruaumoko begins rumbling near a village of turehu (fairy people).  A young villager, Hine Ariki, is sent with find out what’s wrong and discovers that the source of the trouble is an evil sorcerer, Whiro te Tipua, who has stolen the sacred stones of the nearby village and enslaved creatures living under the mountain.  Hine calls on Ruaumoko to help defeat the sorcerer and he sends forth creatures of the light into the cave, which transform Hine into a magical purerehua (butterfly), ultimately overpowering Whiro te Tipua.  When Hine returns to her village triumphant over evil, they all perform an ancient dance and are gifted with the power to feel their inner potential rumbling inside them.

Choreographer Moss Patterson works to his strengths by bringing the geography of the story to life through patterns and spatial design with bodies.  The young dancers perform beautifully, transforming into everything from the rumbling belly of a mountain to a gnarly, rocky landscape to the sacred stones taken from the village (made from the tiny balled-up bodies of the younger children, carried by Whiro – my favourite part!).  Each percussive crescendo of Farr’s score is punctuated with leaps, turns, lunges, stomps; the lulling moments of the string section meet silent bodies resting in majesty to Paddy Free’s soundscapes.

Another powerful component to this work is the commanding presence the haka throughout, anchored by members of Hawaiki Tu Haka Theatre.  Complementing the percussive score and ground-shaking themes of the work, the haka takes the energy and mana of Ruaumoko to the next level of heightened awareness, particularly at the end.  Stunning.

The sheer scale of the work is impressive on so many levels.  While the choreographer in me wants to pick a few things apart, I instead choose to surrender to the spirit of this work – let myself be taken in by its magic and relish the power and joy that is unfolding on stage.  I can see a hundred young people totally absorbed in and committed to this work, which has them working alongside the APO and some of New Zealand’s top dance and kapa haka artists with a hugely talented artistic team in the most awesome venue in the city.

An older couple beside me have been watching their young granddaughter perform on stage.  They are absolutely beaming; the grandmother has tears in her eyes.  As a mother myself, I can imagine how proud they must feel.  It’s magical.  It’s massive.  And I certainly hope this project continues for many years to come. 


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