Q Theatre, 305 Queen St, Auckland

30/09/2011 - 30/09/2011

Tempo Dance Festival 2011

Production Details

To celebrate the opening of its premier season at Q Theatre, Tempo Dance Festival 2011 presents a dynamic one night season of Maori dance. Beautiful, fun and inspiring Tuakana is a stunning visual feast from some of New Zealand’s foremost indigenous choreographers and dancers. Featuring work by Atamira Dance Company, Taiaroa Royal, Louise Potiki-Bryant, Dolina Wehipeihana (choreographer for award winning film Boy) and artists from four time national Kapa Haka winners, Pounamu Kapa Haka, Tuakana is a powerful mix of New Zealand’s most outstanding Maori artists. 

See New Zealand’s most dynamic contemporary and traditional Maori dance showcased in this one night only show. From the strength and beauty of kapa haka to inspiring new contemporary works, Tuakana brings together the immense talent of our indigenous artists in a once only compelling show.

The choreographers and artists featured in Tuakana are among New Zealand’s most inspiring. They have a thrilling repertoire of work which has been widely acclaimed and awarded both within New Zealand and overseas. 


Pounamu Kapa Haka Ensemble - Kura Te Ua, Paddy Te Ua, Aroha Clarke, Ngatareta Mason, Wairaka Mason, Jacob Kake, Jordon Clarke, Atareta Witika, Tere Diamond

Atamira Dance Company - Taiaroa Royal, Taane Mete, Louise Potiki Bryant, Kelly Nash, Jack Gray, Jason Moore

Solos - Louise Potiki Bryant, Taiaroa Royal

80 mins

The emergence of something really exciting, a bit chaotic, completely energizing and necessary

Review by Tamati Patuwai 01st Oct 2011

My general impression of the Maori Dance Showcase Tuakana last night is that with this mix of Contemporary Dance and Kapa haka is the emergence of something really exciting, a bit chaotic, completely energizing and necessary.
Drawing together several of our most illustrious choreographers and dancers intermingled with some vital emerging talents, Tuakana certainly lives up to its title. ‘Tuakana’ are known as the older siblings to the younger ‘teina’. So with the likes of Taiaroa Royal, Tane Mete and Jason Moore to name a few the younger choreographers, Kura Te Ua, Louise Potiki-Bryant & Ngarino Watt, though most certainly shining in their own light, are in great company. In time this exciting amalgam of Contemporary Dance and Kapa Haka will begin to bear fruits that will invigorate our culture and our experience of what dance can be.
All of the Maori protocols presented throughout last night’s expose naturally gave this experience it’s most fundamental substance. From the Taki to the Paeke style of weaving guest and visitor commentary together, this unique Maori kawa exalted Audience and Performer into a meld of honour, inspiration and gratitude. Though some spectators may have felt uncomfortable at this I for one think this is the perfect outcome.
In terms of the particular sections there were 11 pieces that made up the entire collection of dance works. Jumping from Contemporary to Kapa Haka I would have appreciated more collaborations but, once again, time will ensure the best merging of form and flavour.
Louise Potiki-Bryant is certainly blazing a trail of her own. The limbic resonance of Potiki-Bryants offering is other- worldly even extra-terrestrial. I felt as though I was watching an ancient Kai Tahu rock painting come to life. The ideas are clear though the body-mind athleticism to carry out such precise abstract forms, I feel, needs work.
Tai Royal’s excerpt from an early 1990’s project was astounding. Though I can see Royal’s concept fitting of two decades ago, there is still significance to our artistic exploration today; traditional vs. contemporary, old vs. new or even if these terms are relevant at all. Whatever the answers are, watching Tai is like watching a King perform to his children; with all his grace, mastery and love. Pono!
The Pounamu team respectfully bring all the gifts of their Mentors to the stage; namely the Wehi whanau. This is equally as clear to me. Tika tonu taua whakaputanga e hoa ma, kia whakahonore atu ki o tatou Maatua. Heoi ano ma te wa koutou e hanga ana o ake hua, o ake huarahi. Kia kaha ra! Paddy and Kura your expertise of Poi and Rakau is breath taking. “Whuu te kotiro!” E mohio ana tatou ka hohonu rawa te rapunga.  Ka mau ra te wehi!
Overall it was a pleasant evening at the theatre. Though it is a shame that Tuakana has only enjoyed a one night performance I have no doubt we will hear more of these sensational talents in the near future.
E Tuakana ma, ka nui aku mihi ki o koutou. Pono ana oku mihi inapo ra “Ko Hinetitama koe (koutou), matewai ana te whatu I te tirohanga atu” ki o koutou maia, ki o koutou ataahua. E aku teina, me tu pakari koutou i te mohio hei apopo ka tu koutou hei reo mo o Iwi katoa. Tena ra tatou.
Mauri Ora
Tamati Patuwai

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

Q's auditorium well warmed by Maori dance

Review by Raewyn Whyte 01st Oct 2011

Warming Q’s Rangatira auditorium as preparation of the subsequent events of  the 2011 Tempo Dance Festival was the intention for the opening showcase, Tuakana, an interleaving of Maori contemporary dance and kapa haka items performed by Aotearoa’s leading exponents of these forms — members of Atamira Dance Company, and of Te Waka Huia’s Pounamu performance collective.  

Kapa haka and Maori contemporary dance are not often presented on the same stage, even though both are contemporary art forms  which publicly express and celebrate Maori values and examine social issues, rely on choreographic structures for their effectiveness, and seek the continuing development of artistry and virtuosity for their performers.

Their juxtaposition in Tuakana highlights what both forms share — respect for the art form, its protocols, and one’s fellow artists, respect for the mana of senior artists whose many contributions have inspired others to follow a similar path, and for the passion and commitment which performers at all levels bring to their performance.  

Both forms also reach out to their audience, seeking to engage them viscerally, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually —  though the way this is done is perhaps one of the major differences between the forms.

Threeof Pounamu’s works are composed by Te Whanau Wehi –  Wahine Toa (1992) written by Ngapo Wehi as an acknowledgement for Te Atairangi Kahu, the late Maori Queen; Mana Tuku Iho , a poi dance which acknowledges female Maori deities; and Ka Titiro, choreographed by Kura Te Ua and Ngarino Watt,. Collectively these show how kapa haka charges the air of the whole auditorium with dynamic singing and vigorous actions, enlarging this effect by  the visual impact of uniform costuming (piupiu and patterned, woven bodices for the women, piupiu and bare chests for the men), and dramatic makeup for all, including facial tattoos.  Action incorporates shifting dynamic groupings of performers, with women usually in front and men behind, some wielding weapons such as taiaha (mostly men),  and the use of an array of facial expressions and bodily stances. The mood can range widely — from fiercely challenging to gently welcoming, deeply sad to joyously happy — but it is always deeply expressive and invites a similar response in the audience.

The Maori contemporary dance works shown here, by contrast, make primary use of the body itself moving in space, with some additional support from scenographic elements such as lighting, sound and video projections, to draw the audience towards the onstage action – a more intimate experience for the audience.

Taiaroa Royal’s solo Te Pou (1990) immediately rivets audience attention on a still male body, clothed only in black shorts and holding a long white stick with bands at one end. He is set against a glowing halogen-lit backdrop, and accompanied by the schmaltzy/sultry sounds of Marcus Miller and Miles Davis in the Siesta movie soundtrack  backdrop. Modelled on the traditional form of haka peruperu, but with an internal focus, and with the emphasis on slow movement in which the muscular control of the body is balanced against the length of the stick, this now feels very postmodern, and very  contemporary despite being made 20 years ago.

Louise Potiki Bryant’s poetic solo work Tumutumu (2010), an excerpt from her  performance-video-installation Nohupuku, is equally riveting with its flickering, flighty, extraordinarily detailed flurries of movement which conjure everything from honey bees and buzzing insects to wild horses and blossoms tossing on the wind. Wearing a close-fitting, flare-skirted intensely red dress adorned by  clusters of lacy banding and netting at throat, hip, ankle and wrist (designed by Bethany Edmunds) , she carries with her two gleaming remnants of an old pohutukawa which comprise the taonga puoro played by James Webster within Paddy Free’s accompanying soundscore. Dancing in front of two vertical screens which display shape-shifting animations based on intricate line-drawings — perhaps the paths traced by those honey bees as they buzz around the blossoms –  she is very much the indomitable spirit of that old pohutukawa.

Atamira’s  Whanaungatanga, a brief except from their recent full length work Te Houhi, is presented this time without the dramatic lighting and video projections which accompanied it in the premiere season,  putting the focus back onto the movement itself, which is a patterned sequence of stepping, stamping, clapping and slapping much more minimalist than presented in kapa haka. Clad in deep scarlet wraps over black skirts or pants (costumes by Marama Lloyd) , and accompanied by a deeply resonant drumbeat (score Paddy Free), there is also  tension between the group of dancers upstage left and a seated figure downstage right, their ancestor, on whom they slowly advance and retreat, down the diagonal.

Pounamu’s fourth work is Te Taki , with music by Tru Paraha arranged by Chad Doherty, and choreographed by Kura Te Ua and Ngarino Watt. This innovates on the traditional form of kapa haka, with performers dressed in plain black clothing, against black curtains, and with lighting putting a glimmer onto the weapons — a long stick and a dagger – held by the women. The men provide the relish by singing in support of the women’s actions, and the women alternately perform solos with their  weapons, drawing attention in towards themselves as contemporary dancers do.

The entire ensemble appeared together in both opening and closing items, bracketed by opening and closing mihi from Pita Turei with responses from a Tempo representative, and just before the finale, an open stage with an opportunity for audience response to the show. The very low-brow, feel good   grand finale was Poi E Thriller, choreographed by Dolina Wehipeihana. This  had the audience clapping and singing along while the performers took their bows and danced about some more with phrases inflected by gestures and emphases lifted from Michael Jackson’s historic video.

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