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Pac Dance Fest 2016 Profile: Behold the Coconut

Leki Jackson Bourke
Pac Dance Fest 2016 Profile: Behold the Coconut by Leki Jackson Bourke


Leki Bourke has been up-and-coming on the Pacific dance scene over the past few years.  He has taken part in the Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab both as a dancer and choreographer.  Behold the Coconut was created in the 2014 ChoreoLab and as Leki explains is a piece diverse in its approach, bringing Pacific fusion to the floor.

Q. What is your piece about?
A. My piece is about the birth of Niue Island, the integration of cultures and the discovery of the land.

Q. What was the inspiration behind it?
A. The inspiration behind it was when I read an article that mentioned the first inhabitants of Niue. The article stated that Niue had first been populated by the Samoans, then the Tongans and later the Cook Islanders, particularly from Pukapuka. I thought of Niue as being the “Superbreed” of Polynesia and I thought about creating a piece that would combine dance vocabulary from all thee different island cultures.

Q. Who's working on it? (dancers or are you flying solo), how is that process?
A. I have been working on the piece with my dancers who are awesome. It’s definitely a collaboration, I sometimes give provocations or I teach whole sets of movement and then we create and workshop together. My dancers are very generous with offering ideas and they are very open-minded to the way in which we work.

Q. Are you looking forward to working with the other wahine toa or tamatoa at the festival? Why?
A. Definitely looking forward to seeing the other pieces in Tamatoa. I know that each piece will have a different style and it’s great to see that our Maori and Pacific men are so connected with dance and with the multiple genres of dance that will come out of the show.

Q. Are you excited about being the inaugural artists at what could turn into a long running annual event?
A. Yes definitely excited and honoured to have this opportunity and I hope it will inspire more Pacific artists to create work and showcase their pieces in a festival like this, which celebrates Pacific Contemporary Dance within the context of theatre.

Q. How do you see the contemporary Pacific fusion dance scene at the moment? 
A. It’s interesting to see that many choreographers are moving away from the sometimes-controversial “Traditional” idea of Pacific dance. Many choreographers are starting to use Pacific dance vocab in different ways and for different purposes other than entertainment. The incorporation of contemporary choreographic devices has had a massive effect on Pacific dance. It’s exciting to see the growth of our stories on stage being depicted through familiar movements and dance styles. I do hope the Pacific Contemporary dance scene continues to grow.

Q. What would you like to see for the festival in future?
A. More dances and pieces from the smaller islands, the Micronesian and Melanesian islands.  

Q. Any favourite dance or arts quotes?
A. “Tradition is a refuge of ignorance” –  Papali’i Dr.Pita Taouma

Purchase Details: 

To see Behold the Coconut, book at Event Finda -

Written by

Pacific Dance New Zealand

8 Jun 2016

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.