Tama Ma on tour

Telecom Playhouse Theatre, WEL Energy Trust Academy of Performing Arts, Hamilton

17/06/2009 - 20/06/2009

Maidment Theatre, Auckland

24/06/2009 - 28/06/2009

Te Papa: Soundings, Wellington

07/07/2009 - 10/07/2009

James Hay Theatre, Christchurch

06/10/2009 - 06/10/2009

Production Details

New Zealand Dance Royalty Leap back into the Spotlight!  

Two of New Zealand’s most acclaimed contemporary dancers are taking their celebrated dance work Tama Ma on the road, starting in Hamilton on June 17 and moving through Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Taane Mete and Taiaroa Royal premiered Tama Ma at Tempo Dance Festival (Auckland) in 2008, they performed to sell out crowds and rave reviews.  Metro Magazine announced that Tama Ma was the ‘Best Dance’ in Auckland in 2008, and the duo won four awards at the official Tempo Dance Award ceremony. Now due to popular demand they are taking their award winning show to audiences all around New Zealand.

A sustained standing ovation greeted dancers Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete…The applause honoured the breadth and depth of their richly satisfying performance, their extraordinary artistry, and the excellence of all aspects…  Raewyn Whyte NZ Herald

Tama Ma tells the story of two men who travel from boyhood, to manhood, and the real life tale of love, life, joy and sorrow. The five part act moves from a short dance film projected on stage to a drag queen’s journey to femininity and the return back to masculinity.  A young boy’s connection to his Whanau (family) and Iwi (tribe) and a mature man’s ideas of identity are also deeply explored.

Presented as a five act autobiographical dance journey; Tama Ma is powerfully performed by Taane Mete and Taiaroa Royal; the distinguished Douglas Wright choreographs Act 2 while the extraordinary talents of Michael Parmenter shape Act 4. This is the first time that the celebrated choreography skills of Douglas Wright and Michael Parmenter have ever been presented in the same show.

Mark Summervile and Heather Lee from ‘Zoomslide’ also collaborated on Tama Ma; they directed and produced a short film that plays in Act 1 of the performance while also creating a documentary about the process of making the dance. Eden Mulholland is also on board as musical director, using his vast talents to create a magical soundscape.

Okareka Dance Company is a vibrant contemporary New Zealand dance company formed in 2007 and led by Taane Mete and Taiaroa Royal with the aim to fuse contemporary dance with other creative art mediums. The essence of Okareka Dance Company is guided by Mâori beliefs, these beliefs – Mana (Honour and Integrity), Whanau (Family) and Matataki (Challenge) are brought to its work and to its audiences.

Through choreography, set design, and costume, Okareka Dance Company strives to tell bold, spiritual stories that are of and from New Zealand. Through careful collaboration the company seeks to extend its creativity and its influence by engaging experienced choreographers, musicians, film producers and performers to create evocative, beautiful dance works that tell a story.

Act One: Pito
8min 16mm short dance film projected on stage without live performance.
Dancers: Taane Mete and Taiaroa Royal
Choreographers : Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete in collaboration with Mark Summerville
Film Director: Mark Summerville
Film Producer: Heather Lee
Music Composition: Eden Mullholland/ Lindah Lepou

Act Two: Tama Ma
Dancers: Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete
Choreographer: Douglas Wright
Music Composition: David Guerin realises piano recording from composer Provokiev.
The dramatic and almost tragic metamorphosis of femininity returning to masculinity. Drag queen’s who lose their fabulousness to again become ordinary men. This act explores the emotional, physical and physiological characteristics of the drag queen and her regression back to a man.

Act Three: Rangatahi
Dancer: Taane Mete or Taiaroa Royal
Choreograher: Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete
Music Composition: Eden Mulholland
A solo that remembers the connection to the whanau (family) and the iwi (tribe). It is a progression of the dance from childhood, danced by Taiaroa Royal, to adolescence, danced by Taane Mete.

Act Four: Hand to Hand
Dancers: Taane Mete and Taiaroa Royal
Choreographer: Michael Parmenter
This act centres on the issue of identity. Central to this issue is the polarity of being same or being different and the exploration of the tension contained in this polarity. The choreography will investigate the difficult territory between improvisation and set composition.

Act Five: Whanaungatanga
Dancers: Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete
A return to spirituality and the importance of whanau ( family).  This act pays homage to the fathers of Taane and Tai, both whom have passed away.  A moving piece that see both men reflect on the important life lessons learnt from their fathers’ tautoko (support) and korero (talking, speaking).

Tama Ma performs:

Telecom Playhouse
WEL Energy Trust Academy of Performing Arts (University of Waikato)
17 – 20 June, 7.30pm
Book tickets through Ticket Direct – www.ticketdirect.co.nz or phone 0800 4 Ticket (0800 4 842538)
*Booking fees may apply

Maidment Theatre 24 – 28 June, 7.30pm
Bookings through: www.maidment.auckland.ac.nz  or 09 3082383
*Booking fees may apply

Te Papa Tongarewa Soundings Theatre, 7 – 10 July, 7.30pm
Bookings through: www.ticketek.co.nz or 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)
*Booking fees may apply

James Hay, 6 October, 7.30pm
$20/$16 (as part of Body Festival)
Bookings through: www.ticketek.co.nz or 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)
*Booking fees may apply


Power, strength and much depth

Review by Jennifer Shennan 11th Jul 2009

Tama Ma is conceived, commissioned, choreographed and performed by Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete, two leading lights in New Zealand dance. We do not often see choreography that is so deeply drawn from a core of Mâori culture and personal experience, in which the performers are playing themselves in their own heritage.  

Te Papa seems a most appropriate setting for such a performance, and afterwards, instead of leaving through the front doors, I wanted to slip upstairs and spend the night in the shadows of the Mâori court. The imagery and content of the performance, by two males with such powerful, well-muscled, smooth-skinned, beautifully proportioned torsos and strong limbs, resonated with the strength of toi whakairo carving and sculpture, that hallmarks traditional Mâori art.

The opening film sequence had primaeval twin males emerging from dark earth, mud, water. The eels of fertility, the challenge of birth and the struggle for survival were all palpable. 

But there followed much contemporary resonance too – the transvestite "get up & go" of which these two are past masters, with antics that raise many a titter. At the same time the hard underlying edge of what motivates cross-gender hovers, and Douglas Wright’s choreography brought out all the layered ambivalences at work here.

Another section, choreographed by Michael Parmenter, used intriguing images but primarily revealed the lyrical, strong beauty and total rapport of both performers as the forces of light and gravity found balance.

A libretto for the whole work could have appeared in print, in English and Mâori, and also been chanted, spoken, whispered at intervals, to give the work overall a stronger central thread, and to identify with the almighty power that te reo holds in the Mâori world.  But we had plenty of involvement piecing such things together for ourselves, and that makes for an inclusive experience.

This is profoundly important theatre, and these mature and powerful performers should not have to go into personal overdraft so we can see their work. We should be whakama over that, but hopeful that arts management can do something about it fast.
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. 



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Love is a duel

Review by Lyne Pringle 09th Jul 2009

Tama Ma, the hit dance show by Taane Mete and Tairoa Royal, is a must see event! 

It is rare to see such complicity and love expressed on stage; their partnership is extraordinary.

Before the show a good vibe segues into a beautiful mihi framing the event and guiding our senses and spirits to the stage. With a clap of thunder we are in a butohesque birth film; the movement language squat, grotesque, primordial as two brothers, connected by their hair, jerk and fling themselves to separation and humanness, spilling slimy eels from their plait of hair as they gnaw it apart. Darkened faces, staring eyes, earthy stirring images morph into two crimson drag queens.

This is a cheeky surprise, magnified as the two projected divas are joined by the real things – very much alive. Magnificent and meticulously groomed, the impact of both these artists in their drag personas is powerful.

I wanted more of them in their playful mode before Douglas Wright, the master of sardonic and sarcastic cruel, deconstructs them. The dark underbelly of dragdom contains marvellous elements. I enjoyed the pace and craft of the choreography, the jumps in absurd imagery – scared squawking late night street girls, silly shoe phone conversations, chomping teeth ripping eyelashes off and a peak moment where a snake puppet insouciantly sidles across the front of stage tattooed with "etcetera".

Is the choreographer bored with our presence or the antics on stage? Hard to say but it is a nice reality check. Still I would have liked a little more levity less cynicism, just a touch of saccharine; this world is a heightened show business after all and these boys delight in being girls. Being more individual in their genius gender cupping androgyny? Maybe.

There is a disjoint into the next act which, although tender, doesn’t lift off despite the simplicity of the heater and gumboots image.  It is difficult to register the exact intention of the scene and the sexuality of it, but it leads to a beautiful diagonal solo from Taane Mete in fully-fledged soft lyrical mode – dancing a familiar vocabulary fabulously, breathing grace and purity.

What I particularly appreciate about Michael Parmenter’s exquisite and baroque duet is the filmic quality of it. Costume, lighting, setting all contribute to transport us to another world; from the furtive meeting of lovers to settling into fully fledged man to man love – it evokes the sometimes difficult ‘coming out’ journey and then transcends into perfectly expressing the possibility and promise of love between two humans.

Love is a duel, round after round after round; layers peel away, gestures dance between caress and a strike, feet slap the earth. Eden Mulholland’s music swirls … We get dizzy, intoxicated by the myriad possibilities that the choreographer mines, heats in the furnace of investigation then sculpts into startling forms. At the heart of the whirling movement, a stillness and hush that great art creates: the eye of the Okareka hurricane.

In the final act two beautiful men/gods are lifted forward on Mahinarangi Tocker’s sacred vocal chords to evoke the spiritual realm. Tairoa Royal transports me – he defines for me what it means to be a dancer by the honest, sensual and fine flurry of limbs connecting to his heart.

Together these two artists and their collaborators express something important about themselves and about this particular part of the earth that their feet dance upon. I feel grateful that they do it for me. 
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. 


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Powerful journey from boyhood to manhood

Review by Sue Cheesman 26th Jun 2009

Okareka Dance Company presents Tama Ma in Auckland at the Maidment theatre giving the opportunity for those who did not see this extraordinary production last year another chance.

Tama Ma has five sections presented as an "autobiographical dance journey" performed by Taane Mete and Taiaroa Royal. Bodies honed and mapped by years of extensive dance training, their performance extols power, skill and artistry.

Choreographers Douglas Wright and Michael Parmenter along with film maker Mark Summerville have contributed to make this contemporary performance collaboration outstanding.

Tama Ma begins with a short film entitled Pito. Very elemental and stark, the opening shot is a striking image of both Taane and Tai perched on tree stumps connected by a length of long thick hair like an umbilical chord. The environment, weather and clouds set a very foreboding atmosphere. The chord is torn apart by their teeth as they scramble and crawl on all fours exploring the rugged primeval environment, capturing the struggle and varying polarities around an awakening or birth.

The sudden change from Pito to Metamororphosis catches me by surprise as the maroon short dresses zoom across screen to clothe Tai and Taane. This works very well to snap from first section to the next.  I really enjoy the four divas’ interplay; two on screen and two on stage until the ones on screen are marched off up the back and faded out. Maybe two of these divas with the ‘killer’ red high heels are quite enough.

Choreographed by Douglas Wright, Metamororphosis is both comic and tragic at the same time and deconstructs the drag queen, stripping away the layers of femininity with much pathos.

Hand in hand, choreographed by Michael Parmenter, seems to really embrace kinship on many levels between these two extraordinary contemporary dancers. The fluid partner work is captivating to watch and not at all full of the Michael Parmenter standard lifts, falls and recovery signature of his partner dancing. The exciting "yet fraught territory between set composition and improvisation" makes this duet richer as the interplay of touch, connect, support, recover, and reconnect pans out over time. 

Viewing the last section, my thoughts drift back to the first time I saw this production in the Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber [reviewed by Jack Gray] and I miss the depth of field that space provided. I lose the sense of mystery and elongation to the length of the walk both dancers perform towards the audience. Instead I am immediately aware of the black net backdrop slowly peeling off to reveal the two powerful figures dressed in white pants.

Whanaungatanga does not have the complexity of previous sections but certainly has a reverence and honouring of the past as it acknowledges the importance of whanau. Their looking upward with uplifted arms and torsos is a very powerful image, beautifully captured by light. Sitting close enables me to viscerally experience the spirituality of this moment. The beautiful voice of Mahinarangi Tocker permeates the theatre and is at one with the ending.

The story of these two men journeying from boyhood to manhood is in my opinion powerfully told through their dancing.
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Taking quality work to a new brilliance

Review by Terri Ripeka Crawford 22nd Jun 2009

Tama Ma is an extraordinary work produced by Okareka Dance Company and performed by two of our most renowned contemporary dancers Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete.  It is rewarding to see such high quality dancers venture out on their own, and invigorate audiences with their professional partnership in this work. 

Starting their 2009 tour of the 5 act work in Hamilton with a four night season of Tama Ma at the Wel Energy Trust Academy of Performing Arts seemed ambitious but in reflection, as the Telecom Playhouse Theatre is one of the best intimate theatre spaces in Aotearoa, it was a great place to settle and tease the company’s performance work into a new season and ultimate perfection.

Tama Ma is unequalled as a quality two-piece theatrical dance work.  Taane Mete of local hapû Ngâti Koroki was pleased to be able to bring their work to this area, and it was a proud moment for Karaitiana Tamatea of Ngâti Koroki, and lecturer from within The School of Education at The University of Waikato, to welcome in the Tama Ma season with a mihimihi and karakia on opening night.

Act 1. PITO
Challenging, courageous, scary and extreme.  Royal and Mete reassess their past artistry in choreographing themselves as primeval savaging Medusas with film director Mark Summerville. When Tairaroa Royal bounds into the air, there is no sky, there is no earth, there are no winds, nor seas. Tai’s unique inextinguishable energy, surpasses all earthly elements, ko te ira atua, ko te ira tangata. 

Pito is a return to bloodline, rangatiratanga, bones and earth.  Ko te Iho matua, inception, creation, nurturer. Pito is the salivation and manifestation Okareka’s grounding as new directors and choreographers.  The ‘pito’ gore sets the field for performance engagement and shifts audience perceptions promptly, but wait, surprise! slip on that red dress and high heels! It’s Moulin Rouge Fan Fare! Red Velvet drapes and Chaka Kan Linda Lepou whoop doops!  What a way to portray the search for the female essence of Taane (Taane Nui-a-Rangi). Hilarious! 

Act 2. TAMA MA
Drag queens deconstruct down dirty unhallowed streets: what a metamorphosis! A grand stripping of layers, in parts very difficult to face. What happened to our entertainment!? Cheek to cheek, breast to breast … tragedy and death. Such revealing moments of rawness that only true experience and expert direction can pull off.  Taane is outstanding in this work, a technically divine centrifugal partnership with Tai, and extraordinary looking in black lingerie. 

What bodies, legs to die for, and rippling fleshy backs and buttocks … Aaah sumptuous! But what of the drag, the distorted faces, the brutalisation, the sex trade? Trust in choreographer Douglas Wright to bring in sick and absurd street affairs, and theatrically expose the dark side of the happy smiling Drag Queen existence … I can hear them say are we not people too? Are we not human? With sensitivities? And responsibilities? The strength of Taane’s split second haka stance is gender juxtaposition. It is a rollercoaster experience, with immense highs, and devastating lows.

Kei hea to tâtou nei poutokomanawa?!

Here we are led to explore childish innocence amidst Mâori family life. Cozied Conray heater thoughts fill the lazy daydreams and inspire a dance in Dad’s gumboots.. We all have these memories of secretly wearing Mum’s or Dad’s or the big sister’s shoes, and we mirror image our loved ones.  Ko koe nei au, ko au nei koe.  Is that your hand or my hand?  We are the same. We are one and I am home in my original skin.  Time passes, tick tock, and Eden Mulholland’s audio-scapes are an integral part of the Tama Ma journey as and we are drawn into the internal rhythms of childhood memories and Tai’s extraordinary sense of swift tiger-like pounce, pose and play.  This seems to be work in progress, but will develop as time with rehearsal director Daniel Cooper continues to bring zestful insights to the overall execution of Tama Ma.

You can feel the dewy chill of the night as Jeremy Ferns’ lighting design uncovers itself and becomes a noticeable part of the designer collaboration.  Action based, Mafioso struggle, peaking and undulating, push and shove, thrust and parry, balance and counterbalance … 

This is a dance of negotiation and sensibility where past insecurities meet tender maturity and trust and partnership are strengthened. Michael Parmenter’s choreography is an epic partnering masterful tangle, so sophisticated and truly uplifting is this realm of seamlessly executed intrigue.

Beyond the veil, the bright light of Tane Te Waiora, the cradle and calling of Hine Nui te Po where we cross the threshold and arrive at a place of illumination.  A presentation of love and grief for those that have passed on, the dance and spirit of their existence still dances within and all around.  The boys celebrate their joy for dance and their duo ‘bookend’ style is reiterated in this simple legato finale. 

Although Tai and Taane as choreographers are not yet at the level of Wright and Parmenter, the need for balance and simplicity in this piece is a welcome release back into reality and whakanoa.

I am excited for Tama Ma as Okareka takes this work to a new brilliance this year.  Their standard of work is of such quality, that this tour is only the beginning of its international potential.

I wish Tama Ma all the best for their remainder 2009 tour to Matariki Festivals in Auckland and Wellington (and to Christchurch in October).  No reira e Tama ma, ko Okareka, ka tu kaha tonu ki te whai ao, ki te ao marama!

Tihei Mauri Ora!
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. 


Karaitiana Tamatea June 24th, 2009

Kia ora taatou,

Mauri ora ki Matariki!!! Mauri ora ki Tama maa!!!!

I tuu te winiwini, i tuu te wanawana!!!

Ngaa mihi maioha ki ngaa tama me te roopuu whakahaere. I whiikoihia te whiikoi mai i te poo uriuri ki te ao maarama, tae noa ki te hokinga atu ki a Papatuuaanuku.

Ko te hiikaakaa, ko te kaha o ngaa nekehanga katoa.

Ko te miharo, ko te ataahua, ko te kitenga auahatanga o te ao Maaori, ko te rongona o te ngakau Maaori.

Ngaa manaakitanga katoa

Jack Gray June 23rd, 2009

He tuhituhi ataahua tenei tataritanga a Terri. Churrr...Neat alright girl! 

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