Just over 15 years ago Atamira Dance collective formed under a common bond of a love for dance and a hunger for indigenous stories and themes. Since then the company has grown up as a leading creative business taking their art to the world and collaborating with many of this country’s finest talents.
The success of the company still weighs on this shared vision and next month the company will present Manaia at Q Theatre, presenting four female choreographers who have all been an important part of the journey.
Choreographer Gabrielle Thomas joined the company in 2006 originally as a dancer then developing her skills through short choreographies. Kelly Nash has combined her career as a dancer and choreographer with frequent collaborations with the company. Nancy Wijohn has travelled to North America, the Pacific and throughout NZ in six different dances with Atamira, while co-founder Louise Potiki-Bryant continues her remarkable development as performer, choreographer, video maker and now an acclaimed Laureate awarded artist.
Atamira’s short works programme Kaha was launched in 2007 and since become their most popular touring programme to date. Under the theme of Manaia (from the mythical creature of the same name with the head of a bird and body of a human) this year’s short works programme bridges human endeavour to spiritual aspiration.
Louise Potiki-Bryant who contributes a short dance film from her residency in New York as the Friedlander fellow, relates to the Manaia as a messenger between two realms “With choreography I tend to inherently connect with wairua and often my works are about the messages sent to us from the spirit world.”
Choreographer Kelly Nash, whose performance features two startlingly prolific dancers, Sean McDonald (Black Grace, Douglas Wright, Michael Parmenter’s Commotion Company) and Hannah Tasker-Poland (NZ Dance Company, Auckland Theatre Company) seeks “…a spiritual presence that I see overarching and protecting the work. The guardian looks after what I have worked hard for and creates a sacred space to explore in.”
Nancy Wijohn’s solo performance weaves physical opposition with illusion as videographer Rowan Pierce blurs reality with virtual bodies to highlight the physical world merging into light.
Gabrielle Thomas conveys the ethos of the company as an ongoing artistic journey bringing together three of the brightest new talents to graduates from the Unitec Dance degree course “I feel a responsibility to share what I have learned while working for and alongside powerful choreographers and performers such as Louise, Kelly and Nancy. These women all hold strength different from each other but are all equally talented in their expression. So making a show with them gives me great confidence. I am also excited to work with a new generation of wahine in the company.”
Manaia is the culmination of a movement in contemporary dance that began as a instinct, developed into an unstoppable force and came of age with the surety of new talent taking the reigns of artistic endeavour.
Manaia plays: Q Theatre Loft Space, 305 Queen Street, Auckland Performances: 5 – 9 July, 8pm Tickets: $15 - $30* Early Bird and Group prices available. Tickets available through Q Theatre – 09 309 9771 or www.qtheatre.co.nz * Service fees apply
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