Cast & Crew of the Choreolab 2011
Cast & Crew of the Choreolab 2011

The 2011 Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory saw three choreographers of Pacific Island descent take on this three-week intensive lab to develop three distinct works.

To read a review of the lab showing go here.

The successful choreographers this year were:

Tepaeru-Ariki Lulu French (Cook Islands)

Sesilia Pusiaki Tatuila (Tonga)

Ojeya Cruz Banks (Guåhån/Guam)

The dancers who worked under our choreographers are:

Jeremiah Faitala, Otto Mataeo, Mele Taeiloa, Ailepata Lavea, Santana Schmidt, Lomina Araitia, Charlene Tedrow, Inna Schwalger, Suivai Autagavaia. 

The three emerging to mid-career choreographers had the opportunity to develop dance works over a three-week period between September 26th and October 14th. This culminated in a showing of work on Friday, October 14th at the Mangere Arts Centre - Ngā Tohu o Uenuku.

The three successful choreographers had the opportunity to be mentored by well-known dancer and artistic director Neil Ieremia.

Neil has been at the forefront of Pacific contemporary dance since he established Black Grace in 1995.

He says he was “chuffed” to be involved and really looked forward to what the choreographers came up with.

Iosefa Enari, director of Pacific Dance New Zealand, says he is well pleased with the selection of this year’s choreographers and especially pleased to have Neil on board for this exciting laboratory.

The chosen choreographers come from a range of backgrounds and were selected by a committee of community representatives and project partners to undergo the laboratory.

Pacific Dance NZ’s dance development officer and laboratory project leader, Filoi Vaila’au, says the level of applicants this year was high but in the end the choreographers were chosen because they offered well thought-out proposals which also offered something different to past years of the lab.

Ojeya Cruz Banks is the most experienced of the three choreographers. She is of Guåhån (Guam/Chamorro) descent and is currently a lecturer and choreographer in dance studies at the University of Otago. Banks is an accomplished academic and dance researcher holding a PH.D from the University of Arizona and having published various pedagogy and dance themed works.

Ojeya's piece is called 'Espiritu Tasi' (‘the ocean within’ or ‘I respect water’ or ‘of water and spirit’). What she describes as “an ecological exploration of Guahan’s waters,” 

Tepaeru-Ariki Lulu French is of Cook Islands descent, holds a masters of (medical) science and has been an instructor of Cook Islands dance in a number of dance groups, institutions and schools. In her youth she was junior dance champion in her home Island of Aitutaki and since moving to New Zealand has been part of a number of groups well known in New Zealand Polynesian dance circles - Ura Tabu, Pacific Expressions and the long standing group Anuanua Dance Troupe (of which she is still a member).

Lulu's piece is called 'Pacific Muse' which she says she wanted to “counter the all too simplistic and discursive representations of non-European cultures, and therefore the Western-colonial gaze.”

Sesilia Pusiaki Tatuila is the youngest of this year’s choreographers and comes from a family with a tradition of Tongan performing arts. She has been immersed in Tongan arts and dance since childhood and has had years of performing and tutoring Tongan dance. Her most recent performance experience has been in theatrical productions with PIPA (Pacific Institute of Performing Arts), LIMA Dance Theatre and the Kila Kokonut Krew.

Sesilia's piece is called 'Maile.' This work is an interpretation of an old Tongan poem and followed on from a tradition handed down within her family (the Lomipeau, who also sang during the performance). 

The Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory 2011 was launched on Monday 26th September at Metro Theatre (East Mangere Hall) at 10am by local MP Su'a William Sio. 

The lab culminated in a showing of works at the Mangere Arts Centre - Ngā Tohu O Uenuku on Friday October 14th at 7pm, which was closed again by local MP Su'a William Sio.