Article Title:A story close to home: Mana Wahine
Author or Credit:Jacqui Stanford
Published on:3rd July 2014 - 11:21 am
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Story ID:15317
Text:Okareka's Taane Mete and Taiaroa Royal From the creative geniuses at Okareka Dance Company, Mana Wahine celebrates the strength of women. The latest work from the team who brought us Tama Ma and K’ Rd Strip is inspired by the true story of Te Aokapurangi, a young maiden from Rotorua who was captured in battle by a tribe from the Far North. Many years later she returned and cleverly single-handily saved her people from slaughter. Te Aokapurangi is one of Okareka co-Artistic Director Taiaroa Royal’s ancestors. He tells when he heard her story from a cousin he was intrigued. “It struck a chord within me. I just wanted to make a work about the essence of women and how beautiful they are and the integrity they have, the hard work, the strength, the mana.” He and creative partner Taane Mete were joined by World of WearableArt artistic director Malia Johnston in choreographing Mana Wahine, a collaborative process which took two to three years. The movement is designed to capture Te Aokapurangi’s courage, determination and fearlessness. Instead of each devising a section, Royal explains the trio created choreography that “lays over each other’s ideas, each other’s choreography, each other’s intentions, so we’ve created a work that is in co-authorship. I think in that way the work is a lot more layered, it’s a lot more rich.” The all-female cast is made up of Bianca Hyslop, Maria Munkowits, Nancy Wijohn, Chrissy Kokiri and Jana Castillo. Most are Unitec dance graduates and Royal says they are all amazing dancers and performers. “They were hand-picked by myself and Taane because we felt that they had the qualities which were required in order to perform and work on this piece.” The premiere of Mana Wahine was, fittingly, held in Rotorua and received standing ovations and a haka from the audience. Royal thought Mana Wahine show would mostly appeal to women, but says the audiences so far have been diverse in age, genders and race. “We had both Maori and Pakeha coming up to us in Rotorua after the show and saying they cried, they laughed, they were taken on this incredible journey with all the imagery. So I think the audience are going to be captive in this journey. It’s a very spiritual journey. The piece is very full of wairua and love and honesty and I think the audience will feel that.” MANA WAHINE plays: Auckland: 2-5 July, Rangatira @ Q Theatre Dunedin: 11-12 July, Regent Theatre Whangarei: 15 July, Forum North Kerikeri: 19 July, Turner Centre Kaitaia: 22 July, Te Ahu Centre Mangere: 25 - 27 July, Mangere Arts Centre Tauranga: 29 July, Baycourt Theatre Hamilton: 1 Jacqui Stanford - 3rd July 2014    
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