Where is Home?
27/10/2013 - 29/10/2013
Okareka Dance Company presents Koanga Youth Performance – Where is home?
Posing questions to the youth of today through the media of contemporary dance and drama, students will explore, devise and perform original choreography created by themselves and tutors from Okareka Dance Company.
This will be an exploration of where and what participants consider to be home. As New Zealand is such a multi-cultural, multi-racial country, and with up to three or four generations of cultures now residing here, where do these new, young cultures consider home? By tracing one’s genealogy, you can find where you came from and how you got here.
Participants explore questions such as ‘do they connect with their blood?’, ‘do they belong or think they belong to their ‘mother-land’?’, ‘what is their relationship with the ‘whenua’ of Aotearoa?’, ‘what do they call home?’ and ‘why did their elders/ancestors come here?’
Theatre , Dance ,
Interconnecting, interactive, immersive
Review by Margi Vaz Martin 28th Oct 2013
It is dark. A soundscape offers an immersive environment through which we may gain knowledge of this performance space. Rushing sea is heard echoing through the dark theatre. Flickering striations of dim light begin to cross the back curtain and floor as voices, echoes and breathing heighten the anticipation. In single file dancers step in and out of the light, travelling through the breadth of the stage and pausing to dance short, dynamic sequences before travelling on. Then the text begins. She is Maori. “We are still fighting for our own land. We will never give up… This is my turanagawaewae. I am tangata whenua.”
Where is Home? is the inaugural youth performance from Okareka Dance Company. The work is an exploration of where and what six young dancers consider to be home. New Zealand is a multi-racial, multi-cultural country. Okareka directors challenged dancers with probing questions about genealogy and asked them to explore their answers through choreography and text. Taiaroa Royal and fellow contemporary dancer Taane Mete formed the Okareka Dance Company, guided by Maori beliefs and mana, family and challenges. Their decision to take the company another step forward to mentor youth is a tremendous gift to New Zealand Dance. Tai and Taane’s rich experience and formidable skills have not been wasted by this group of students who have embraced a process of choreography that includes dramatic text.
From dramatic text follows dance by a pair; then 3, 4,5, until all 6 dancers are moving on the floor. As the group grows they mimic the contemporary movements of each other, changing formation and having a jam. The movements have fluidity, intensity, swinging, turning, falling and rising that reflect the skill of the choreographic direction and process in rehearsal. It is a satisfying and coherent vocabulary.
Dance soon gives way to text as lights rise slightly, and definitions of home are spoken. Then the dancers sink low and crouch like crabs on a beach, a soundscape of ocean noise, bamboo wind chimes and voice overs crowd the air until the dancers are rolling onto their backs. Their insect like legs wriggle in the air with soft floor lighting capturing a transition to creatures rising to their feet.
Powerful words penetrate the environment, “I am believed in… safe to dream and hope” and the speaker moves off into a dance motif that flies with these beliefs. The floor lighting captures entries and exits as dancers walk off and on stage pausing to interact and intersect in pairs, one movement provoking another. Individual genealogies are spoken one after another as dancers seek “endless love, comfort, safety… a place I am me”.
The hour long performance continues to segue between spoken and recorded text and dance sequences. The thoughtful exploration of New Zealand urban youth’s experiences of home, is useful reflection. The ocean soundscape at times gives way to electronic or Maori or European music that suggests a collection of identities and a merging of cultures. Movement juxtaposes against music, while the interconnecting, interactive movement vocabulary suggests personal, cultural moments that shape people’s lives. Several solo sequences by Jag Popham highlight him as the most experienced and accomplished dancer in the group. He expresses himself with skills of both ballet and freer contemporary dance. He is a delight to watch. The performance concludes with the sense that the diverse identities that comprise New Zealand urban youth’s dance diaspora have reached a place of acceptance. A strong desire to be planted in this land of Aotearoa is then signified as the dancers each declare with dramatic actions and intensity that they are Kauri trees with roots going deep into the earth.
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Jessica Winiata October 31st, 2013
Thank you for watching our performance and hope you enjoyed it.