1. How did you first get into dance?
I was fascinated to move when doing acting training in the early ’90s. I found movement and dance to be a much more fulfilling way to express ideas and emotions than using only spoken word.
The Atamira family has always been a part of my life since leaving dance school, as many of the founding members are my good mates. I worked on many projects with Atamira while working with other dance companies, and then decided to gave it my full focus in 2010. Dancing with mana is our vision, and I like to ask myself this question each day in studio before we get started as the search for me never ends.
3. What inspires you when creating your choreography?
Choreography is like magic to me and I search constantly for movement that can reveal hidden truths about ourselves and moments of beauty that remind us of our true nature.
4. Tell us about training for a performance.
We work full days for 8-10 hours, training together in the mornings and improvising and choreographing in the afternoons. I like to offer the dancers the freedom to explore within given parameters and we work very closely together in the pursuit of new horizons and greater understanding of the concept of bringing Māori and Chinese culture together through modern dance.
6. What do you think makes Atamira unique?
Our practise of working from aMāori world view and our kaupapa-driven approach meaning that the strength of the work is based on the power of the many who are involved, and not single individuals.
7. What do you find most fulfilling about your job?
Bringing ideas to life within an environment that supports,acknowledges and understands indigenous creative practises. It means I can confidently practice art-making and support my peers also within a space of tika, aroha and mana (clarity, love and respect).
8. How did the collaboration with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra come about?
I first began making collaborative dance work with the APO in 2011. The opportunity to work with such talented and skilled musicians and composers has been an absolute delight and honour. We have always been up for new challenges and this year will be no exception with live roving musicians, choral singing and traditional players working with the dancers.
I think all dance making is a challenge and is difficult to realise without a lot of focus and dedication by all the team involved. AWA has thrown up new challenges for me in that it derives specifically from a personal story of losing my dad when I was 20. Its something I’ve needed to make for a while but right now I’m not quite sure what the dance will reveal as my objective eye and my emotions are in conflict with each other. I hope we can both honour his story and bring our team closer together as we make this new art work for the Auckland Arts Festival 2017.
AWA is at the Auckland Town Hall on March 25 as part of the Auckland Arts Festival 2017. Visit aucklandfestival.co.nz for more information and to purchase tickets.