Western Springs Lakeside, Auckland

13/03/2010 - 13/03/2010

Pasifika Festival 2010

Production Details

Sunameke is a Pacific Island Performance Group based in Darwin in the Top End of Australia.

Our Traditional and Contemporary dance and song are from Oceania. We have performed nationally and internationally, forging our path for forms of cross cultural performance!

Sunameke was formed in 1997 by Julia Gray, Katrina Sonter, Samantha Sonter and Yolanda Gray.

Sunameke Productions aim to create work that reflects our cultural diversity within a contemporary context with particular emphasis on the experience of the Hapakasi.

Our motto is "From old to new old, that’s the way we go forward", embracing our cultural dances and giving them a new purpose away from their original contexts through our performance practice.

Sunameke deliver AIPA – the Centipede and her Frangipani at the Pasifika Festival in Auckland, New Zealand.

Fresh from their performances at the Wasawasa Festival in Fiji and the Pacific Storms Exhibition in Brisbane their next performance showcases Dance from Mekeo , Papua New Guinea with a unique Hapakasi twist, the warrior women bring their story to Auckland!

Aipa illustrates through dance and costume how women with mixed heritage have become warriors for their children in an ever changing world. The challenges of passing on cultural practices that reflect a multi-cultural society!

Keep a look out for the centipede’s odd shoe!

WHO – Two sets of sisters!
Julia Gray (Mekeo Australia), Director Sunameke Productions.
Yola Gray (Mekeo Australia), dancing, singing and laughing with passion and power her Island styles are unmistakable.
Kat Sonter (Manus, Australia), her graphic design and powerhouse vocals combine to project a deep and striking style Sam Sonter (Manus, Australia), an energy of sweet grace she embodies Melanesian beauty with a backbone of steel. 

Pasifika Festival
13 March: 7pm-9pm
Western Springs Park
Auckland, New Zealand.

Performers: Julia Gray, Yolanda Gray, Katrina Sonter and Samantha Sonter.
Poetry: “Fear of an Estuary” by Teresa Teaiwa
Music:  Leviyam/Aurerem – Sunameke Productions; Manus Rhythms – Drum Drum; Olsem Kopi – Julia Gray and James Mangohig; March Up - James Mangohig  

Heed the call of the Chauka

Review by Margi Vaz Martin 15th Mar 2010

Auckland’s popular Pasifika Festival day arrives Saturday 13 March 2010, bringing together thousands for a great day out at Western Springs. The non-stop entertainment is across 12 stages, but focused on the two main stages, which are the Emerging Stage, and the Air New Zealand International Stage.

The first group on the international stage is Sunameke, a unique Pacific Island dance company based in Darwin and directed by PNG Hapakasi (half-cast) Julia Gray. Sunamake debuted today’s piece, Chauka Calling, at the 2009 Miss Pacific Pageant in Suva, Fiji.

Chauka Calling was created to raise awareness of climate change and its effects in Oceania. Chauka was the guardian bird of the village in the legend ‘Leveyam’ and warned the villagers of a threat. The Pacifika audience is reminded to heed the call of the Chauka.

Using traditional stories, dances and songs from across Oceania in a contemporary context; Sunameke illustrates the links between Pacific Islanders and the sea and highlights the future adversity that awaits them in the form of climate change.

Being the first group on the Pacifika Festival international stage they have to draw a crowd to themselves. It is Saturday morning at 10.10am but there are already quite a lot of people at the festival. Four dancers take places on stage and then the sound track begins with layered and repeating poetry drawing us to think and try to understand. About a hundred people gather to watch.

The layered grass skirts from Thursday night’s opening concert are gone and a more contemporary look is achieved in black strapless tops and fitted skirts. But the beautiful adornments are there in shell necklaces and anklets, yellow hair flowers and high armbands.

They are like perching birds, rising and crouching, unfolding and turning to the wind. Wide-open arms in second position, with chests raised and faces upward, their movements blend Melanesian custom dance with modern vocabularies. Flowing from strong open positions to folding and twisting, fists presenting and hands softening, they move through the voices of poetry and then song that are recorded in haunting echoes, filling the space. Knees are lifted and flexed feet presented, as arms paddle, heads turn to navigate and focused faces remain unsmiling. 

A feeling of caution floats across the audience as ‘Leviyan’ is sung in haunting minor unison, in repetition as the sound of water laps the soundtrack. Harmonies intensify then recede to unison again, emulating the tidal water and reminding us that the sea at Mata’an beach in Loniu, Manus Islands (PNG) is rising. Dancers now change configuration with rhythmic stepping and running in place, lifting the energy around the stage.

Changing again, blue flags are rested front stage by two crouching dancers, while the other two continue to move rhythmically. Percussive tracks take over with intense drumming and rain-stick like softness taking there turns. The front dancers begin to raise the flags, swooping, hiding and revealing the two moving dancers. It is a beautiful spectacle.

The final section changes to fast slit drums: a piece called ‘March Up’. The smiling breaks out as they move quickly back and forth across the stage, stepping, hopping and moving in and around each other in lines. It is joyous and entertaining; the kind of piece that gets everyone to their feet to join in if they are given half a chance.

Sunameke Productions aim to create work that reflects cultural diversity within a contemporary context and with particular emphasis on the experience of the ‘Hapakasi’ – the half-cast Pacific Islander’s experiences. Their website reveals: “Our motto is ‘From old to new, that’s the way we go forward’, embracing our cultural dances and giving them a new purpose away from their original contexts through our performance practice.”
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council