Article Title:Review: Nga hau e wha
Author or Credit:Steve Attwood
Published on:30th June 2011 - 10:09 am
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Story ID:10549
Text:Nga hau e wha – where the elements dance Okareka Dance Company Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre Wellington Wednesday 29 June to Saturday 9 July Reviewed by Steve Attwood. One of the signs of very good art, whatever the genre, is when it has such elemental appeal it transcends boundaries of culture, gender, sexuality, language, race and nationality; when it puts the viewer in touch with the primitive core within us all that is the essence of humankind. Such is the impact of Nga Hau E Wha. For a review in a gay website I could wax on about the queer elements of this story and the takataapui partnership of Okareka; or divert into the sheer sexuality and physical beauty of a production featuring seven men and one woman in their dancing and physical prime; but to do so would be a disservice to the production and to the reader, for this production is much, much more than that. It is one of those rare shows that could travel to any part of the world, be shown to any audience of any culture, and people would recognise it, own it, and say “this is about us” for, essentially, it is about us all. And yet, almost paradoxically, this is also a very Kiwi story, with a solid foundation of Maori cultural themes, woven with Maori story telling and giving physical expression to the core elements of hau (wind), wai (water), whenua (earth) and ahi (fire). It is as complex and intricate as the finest tukutuku panels; as solid and physical a representation of whakapapa as the carved ancestors that grace the finest whare nui. Nga Hau E Wha features takataapui tane Taane Mete and Tai Royal. Together they are the lauded Okareka Dance Company. Hau is choreographed by Mete and Royal, wai by Royal and ahi by Mete. Whenua was put together by Ross McCormack, a New Zealand School of Dance graduate who has worked with Australian Dance Theatre and the dynamic Ballets C dela B in Belgium. Just as the four elements are represented in story and dance, so each element of the production – lighting, sound, space and movement – form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. The choreography moved me, amused me, startled, challenged and confronted me; but above all it spoke to me and wove me into its story. The final scene is a dramatic blend of ancient and modern – a startling representation of whakapapa and human DNA. Go see it. It’s your story! Steve Attwood - 30th June 2011    
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