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Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab 2012 is a Go!

Re: Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab 2012 is a Go!!Pacific Dance New Zealand in association with DANZ, Auckland Council and the Southside Arts Festival with support from Mangere Arts Centre, Corbans Ar


Re: Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab 2012 is a Go!!

Pacific Dance New Zealand in association with DANZ, Auckland Council and the Southside Arts Festival with support from Mangere Arts Centre, Corbans Arts Estate and Unitec's Department of Performing and Screen Arts is proud to announce the 2012 choreographers leading the Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory. 

They are: Tupua Tigafua, Nita Latu and Maile Giffin.

These up-and-coming choreographers will work through a two-month period to develop dance works ranging from contemporary to heritage Pacific dance with twenty dancers from a range of backgrounds.

The choreographers will also receive mentoring from Iosefa Enari, director of Pacific Dance New Zealand and the former convener of the Pacific Music and Dance programme at the University of Auckland. Iosefa has also held posts at Te Wananga o Aotearoa as the curriculum leader of Pacific dance studies as well as BEST Training where he was instrumental in developing the Pacific Institute of Performing Arts (PIPA) programme.

Tupua Tigafua has had years of dance experience working with such prestigious dance companies as Black Grace, Mau Dance Company and most recently with the New Zealand Dance Company. Tupua is a New Zealand born Samoan and says this influences his work intrinsically as an essence even though he does contemporary dance and it may not be obvious to the viewer. His work – Shel We - is based on inspiration from a book he found in his childhood, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (1964). Here, Tupua wishes to capture the humour and wit of Shel’s writing along with the simplicity of space shown in his drawings. Tupua elucidates;

“Through my work I want to explore the notion of weaving together the ideas of comic sequence through timing and poetic imagery. Using my memories of school and joking round with the boys at the tuck shop, to my experiences being in a professional creative environment as a starting point.”

Having an all-male cast also adds to Tupua’s ideas of “tom-foolery” as he says this is an expression of the humour of a PI male growing up in New Zealand and requires a fast, masculine movement counterbalanced by the gentleness of the male in attacking the musical pulse.

Nita Latu is currently in her third-year of a Bachelor of Dance Studies degree at the University of Auckland. She has had notable performances with Auckland’s Short and Sweet Dance Festival (where she won the ‘People’s Choice award), danced with Black Grace and their offshoot Urban Youth Movement, and most recently devised a dance work in the En Route series Come To.

Nita’s work deals with the troubling issue of youth suicide and especially relating to the Pacific community in urban Aotearoa. Nita while watching the news one night was disheartened by a report saying that;

“Pacific people who grow up here are even more likely to have depression or make suicide attempts.”

Asking the question – “Why has this hit our young Pacific people and what can I do about this issue?” Nita was spurred on to create a dance work to speak the voices of young strong Pacific people and remind young people of the powerful richness of Pacific culture (in her case a particularly Tongan culture) that is still present while we live through our everyday Westernised lives.

Her work is called We Are, Who We Are and uses contemporary Pacific motifs mixed with hip-hop movements and the more usual heritage Pacific movements of the past to convey a story acknowledging and confronting the issue of suicide while also delivering a message of hope.

Maile Giffin is the manager and choreographer of Polynesian Entetainers.  She started as a dancer with broad experience across different genres. Maile has an Hawaiian background but growing up in New Zealand trained in ballet from the age of five, Royal Academy of Dance. From here she moved into contemporary dance and over the past ten years has been focussed on Polynesian dance, especially Hawaiian – although she was introduced to hula by her mother as a child.  Moving back to New Zealand almost two years ago Maile joined Halau Hula Kahelelani no Aotearoa and the dance group Mana-O-Hula both based in Auckland.

Maile’s piece Changes of our Land deals with the theme of change in the Hawaiian socio-political environment from King Kamehameha to modern Statehood under the United States.

Maile’s piece uses Kahiko (ancient) along with Auana (modern) styled Hawaiian dance mixed with contemporary movements to convey a story covering a couple major events over some two hundred years of history.

These three choreographers are embarking on a process of creation and discovery over three venues across Auckland over the next couple of months. They will be working with an assortment of dancers from very different dance styles and backgrounds – from school aged to young dancers from Unitec’s dance school to older professional dancers.

This year’s Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory promises to deliver the beginnings of something special.  Come and experience what these choreographers have to offer in a showing of works at the Mangere Arts Centre on Saturday 10th November at 7pm. Best thing – it’s free!!

For more information or media enquiries, please contact Pacific Dance New Zealand on or phone 09 376 00 60.

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Contact details: or phone 09 376 00 60.

Written by

Pacific Dance New Zealand

14 Sep 2012

Interests Pacific Dance New Zealand fosters and encourages the development of the Pacific dance sector of New Zealand. We are involved in running dance workshops, conferences, community and professional events promoting Pacific dance in New Zealand.