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Pacific Dance: Tupua Tigafua

Tupua Tigafua - Photo credit - John McDermott and NZDC
Tupua Tigafua is a dancer of Samoan descent and this he says adds an essence to his work even though he is doing contemporary dance.

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The Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory is a yearly event whereby 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).

The Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory is a yearly event whereby 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).

This year’s ‘lab’ showing is on Saturday, 10th November, 7pm, at 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.

Tupua Tigafua is a dancer of Samoan descent and this he says adds an essence to his work even though he is doing contemporary dance. He says of the ‘lab’ that this is his, “first real choreographing experience.” This besides the fact that he has been a successful dancer; moving from Unitec’s Department of Screen and Performing Arts (Dance) and into dance companies such as ‘Black Grace’, ‘Mau’ and presently with the ‘New Zealand Dance Company’.

Tupua says, although it’s great to be part of a dance company and gain from all those experiences, “it’s great to have the opportunity to really focus on choreographing my own work and see what happens from there.”

His work, Shel We, although originally devised as a short three minute piece for the En Route series Come to show earlier this year, is the piece that he is lengthening and developing to incorporate more ideas.

Shel We is based on inspiration from a book he found in his childhood, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (1964), who also wrote for Sesame St. 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.”

Beyond this Tupua is also exploring what he calls the ‘Space Between’, or in Samoan – the ‘Va’. This concept has been a focus of ‘Mau Dance Theatre’ and Tupua’s exploration of it in his piece can be attributed to this influence.

But, Tupua’s exploration is lighter and seeks to play in the space using an all-male cast to express his ideas around “tom-foolery,” as he says, and an expression of the humour of a PI male growing up in New Zealand.

His dancers (Christopher Tevita Ofanoa, Aloalo(lii) Tapu, Adam Naughton and Kosta Bogoievski), all 4 year 1 Unitec dance students and full of the youthful energy Tupua is seeking.

Tupua’s hopes to really take off on his choreographic journey from this lab and by the looks of things, this 29 year old is well on his way…

  • You can see Tupua’s work at the Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory showing on Saturday, 10th November at 7pm, Mangere Arts Centre - Nga Tohu o Uenuku.

Written by

Pacific Dance New Zealand

7 Nov 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.