Worlds apart – review of Pacific Dance Festival 2019 Triple Bill, Mangere Arts Centre, Friday 14 June 2019

The three works in this year’s Pacific Dance Festival Triple Bill showcase had their beginnings in personal experiences. 
 
Trip, choreographed by Ufitia Sagapolutele in collaboration with dancers Chas Samoa, Lyncia Muller, Funaki Taulanga and Natalia Ioane, opened and closed the programme, framing the two other works. It explored aspects of Sagapolutele’s life journey as part of a group of vulnerable yet strong women with intense loyalties who share a staunchness developed through exposure to hardship of one kind or another.
 
Short bursts of projected film helped to shift time periods and locations, bridging the distance from a crowded urban environment in the opening sections, to the open spaces of an atoll for the closing sections, implying a later period in life’s journeys. Bursts of hiphop-styled movement brought cheers from the audience who seemed otherwise absorbed by the siva Samoa/contemporary dance hybrid blend that carried much of the action.
 
Our Shadows was a gently reflective solo created and performed by Laifa Ta’ala, conveying the message that you can be whatever you want to be.  The voiceover embedded in his soundscore told of a recent death in the family and rediscovery of ancestral histories, and of his decision to follow his own path inspired by theirs. A tall,slim man, Ta’ala’s s movements were lithe and precise, rich in small detail, and delivered with a beautiful sense of flow which carried the audience with him.
 
Melville Place choreographed by Vivian Hosking-Aue and dancers Renee Wiki, Vicky Esekia and Ryle Vatau came with an R16 warning. It was visceral, confronting, aggressive and angry, with a loud crashing storm accompanying three women who appeared to be vicious, snarling, fighting dogs. Events within the dance implied that these women were being repeatedly abused by men, and that this accounted for their rage, self-hatred and despair.  A harsh reality, and a world away from Ta’ala’s optimism.

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NB The original review was written for NZ Herald by Raewyn Whyte. The online link is not working.

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