Shifting Centre

BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

08/06/2023 - 10/06/2023

Kia Mau Festival 2023

Production Details

Directors: Oto Lupo and Sefa Tunupopo

Le Moana and Shifting Centre

First developed in the Measina Makers LAB 2021, Shifting Centre highlights the innate excellence of our Pacific peoples, through street and contemporary dance. Directed by Oto Lupo and Sefa Tunupopo, this piece is an ode to the dream of our ancestors.

VENUE: BATS Theatre (The Stage)

DATE RANGE: Thurs 8th – Sat 10th June 2023

TIME: 7pm

PRICES: $10 – $22


Braedyn Togi
Levi Siaosi
Montell Nickell
Kaysee Savali
Kōwhai Deuchars
Tamia FIlipo
Tasman Kaitara

Producer - Kasi Valu
Lighting and Sound Operator - Grayson Ziogas
Media Team - Vain Creative and Havea Latu

Dance ,

60 minutes

Breath binds the cast together

Review by Mārie Jones 12th Jun 2023

Levi Siaosi and Tasman Kaitara’s focus are fixated on a graffitied staircase as audience members file into their seats. Lights dim and the space is opened up with a solo from Braedyn Togi as the cast sit on the stairs watching. Moods shift, music is produced live, speech is incorporated and movement is raw. A whirlwind of thoughts and emotions stem in watchers’ brains as the performance evokes feelings and processes what they are taking in. 

All of the cast’s movement quality is incredible to witness, a blend of hip hop and contemporary dance. It is so unified and incredibly cohesive as a collective however individuality can still be seen in everyone’s choice of movement. The precise placement of each dancer in space and the shapes they make as a group is simplistic yet satisfying to the eye. The performers always have a purposeful focus behind their eyes drawing the audience into the world they are experiencing. New adaptations of movement are introduced smoothly and individuals are constantly highlighted with solos. Montell Nickel and Kōwhai Deuchars’ solos give me a sense of realness as I watch and the physicality of the dancers is truly insane. I was eager to see the cast move more as a whole collective as the energy levels pick up, firing up the vibe of the room. 

A circle forms around Tasman Kaitara, each person is acknowledged with a shared breath. The breath binds the cast together, energy is settled, concluding the show with a unifying presence. This ending was wholesome to see, with the connection between human to human and the aura this created filling all corners of the theatre. 

Shifting Centre, in the performance of the same name, successfully create a show with an addictive movement quality, thought evoking themes, incredible soundscapes and staging. Levi Siaosi, Montell Nickel, Tasman Kaitara, Sefa Tunupopo, Oto Lupo, Braedyn Togi, Kōwhai Deuchars, Grayson Ziogas, Kaysee Savali and Tamia Filipo make a hub for the hip hop x contemporary dance. They should be proud of the performance they blessed the industry with. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the show and can’t wait to see what Shifting Centre will produce in the future. 


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Offers many seeds for aspiring Pasifika creatives

Review by Zody Takura 11th Jun 2023

After a three-night run at BATS theater in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Shifting Centre directed by Oto Lupo and Sefa Tunupopo is an honest and timely disruption to the endless narratives created on behalf of Pasifika Nations and our people.

From Havea Latu’s beautiful promotional videos circulating social media, all the way to lights up on the closing night, the cast and crew open us up to the reality of being Rangatahi/Talavau in today’s day and age.

As someone who has spent the majority of my life in a state of disconnect from Te Ao Māori and Pasifika identity, I find myself yearning for answers. Unfortunately, so many of the answers I seek are kupu from tangata tiriti. Stories told about my people, not stories told by my people.

I grew up with little access to my Marae and my education was driven by Pakeha ideologies. As a result, I sought consolidation of my experiences elsewhere. As my world became digitalized, it expanded and my teenage years were soundtracked to artists from everywhere but my own Whenua. Rather than rejecting this experience, Shifting Centre leans into it. We become witnesses to a generous sharing of experiences told by a group of young Pasifika performance artists as they use traditional Polynesian, Contemporary and Street influenced movements to embody their own stories.

Shifting Centre evokes a deep sense of nostalgia and truth. As a member of the audience, I am taken to different memories and recollections of my brown experience. I am reminded of crumping battles outside the school canteen and musical jam sessions with my whanau.

One particular moment I will cherish is the kōrero between Tasman Kaitara’s Bass Guitar, Levi Saiosi’s Saxophone, and Zen Te Hira’s Microphone. As each instrument explores the sounds of the space it inhabits, a story unfolds. The sounds produced by the microphone moving across the theater floor make me feel like I am stranded out at sea with Tangaroa’s angry spirit circling like a Taniwha beneath me. Tangaroa is mad at me for my assimilation, for not knowing who I am. I am scared and just before the Taniwha can consume me, the bass guitar becomes the stamping waewae of my people, calling me back to shore. The saxophone becomes a kōauau, summoning the spirits to guide my healing, my rebirth. The instruments created a scene. Simultaneously revealing my truths and calling me back to where I am, to be held by the conversation at hand. This is my story, this is our story.

The brilliant control of sound and lighting by Grayson Ziogas, lifts up the performers as they use every inch and elevation of the theater space. There is both a great sense of tenderness and command in the way the performers explore the lines, curves, restrictions, and openings of the room. This dynamic understanding of the space continuously activates the audience by inviting them into the work.

Shifting Centre offers so many seeds for aspiring Pasifika creatives at any stage in their journey. It is visibility, it is an opening and it is told by Pasifika People, for Pasifika people. Te Aroha nui me te tautoko to the beautiful cast and crew of Shifting Centre and Le Moana for creating a space and an experience that is feeding the yearning of our Pasifika Whanau. Mo te Iwi! Ka Kite ahau i to aroha, ka mihi.



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