The Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory is a yearly event where three selected up and coming choreographers are chosen to develop new works over an intensive period. 2012 is the fourth year of the ‘lab’ and this year’s choreographers are: Tupua Tigafua (Samoan), Nita Latu (Tongan) and Maile Giffin (Hawai’ian).
Nita is the youngest of this year’s choreographers (22 years old) in the lab. She is currently in her third year of a Bachelor’s of Dance Studies degree at the University of Auckland while also working as a mentor in the ‘SisterHood Mentoring Programme’ (which she co-founded) and dancing in other dance projects outside of University.
Nita enjoys working with youth, as with her role in the SistaHood programme, and is focused on dance which comes from and captivates this audience. Her background is in hip-hop/street dance but with the addition of further training in her degree as well as being part of Black Grace’s – ‘Urban Youth Movement’ and even choreographing a dance piece – ‘Ko’au Eni’ (which won the People’s Choice award at this year’s ‘Short & Sweet’ dance fest), Nita has really begun to broaden her dance base.
She says, “This has given me a strong foundation and knowledge in many different areas of the professional dance industry. I have both a passion for dance performance and also dance education. I aim to be a professional dance performer and dance teacher in the industry, as I believe that by practicing both disciplines, I will be able to reach my full potential as a successful dance artist.”
Having the opportunity to further develop a dance work through the laboratory has also given Nita the opportunity both to work with youth – her students all being from Secondary schools in West Auckland – and facing a disturbing issue in the Pacific Islands community in Auckland.
Her piece, entitled We Are Who We Are, tackles the issue of youth suicide.
In this piece Nita asks the question – Why? And, seeks to present what is best described as Hope.
Nita says, “In the past few years I have been troubled on how high the Pacific youth suicide rate has been in our pacific community and really want to identify and address this issue through dance. We Are, Who We Are is a piece that will speak the voices of our strong Pacific culture, and remind our young people the powerful richness that we have as Pacific Islanders living in a Westernized country. Acknowledging and confronting this issue is a step forward in making a change.”
Nita’s piece is hard hitting and doesn’t shy away from the issue. But, in the end, it is hope and the encouragement of ‘self-worth,’ which drives the piece. As, Nita describes,
“Never forget ‘WHO WE ARE’ in New Zealand and stay true to it... ‘WE ARE’ Pacific people that make New Zealand, and that’s our culture, identity that is just as important than any other, each individual has a purpose to be here on earth so lets LIVE IT UP!!”
- You can experience Nita’s work at the Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory showing on Saturday, 10th November at 7pm, Mangere Arts Centre - Nga Tohu o Uenuku.
- The Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab is presented by Pacific Dance New Zealand in association with DANZ, Auckland Council and the South Side Arts Festival; with support from Unitec’s Department of Screen and Performing Arts, Corban’s Art Estate, Creative New Zealand and the ASB Community Trust.