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Event: Pacific Dance Festival 2021

Stepping fully into stage lights as Aotearoa’s national organisation for Pacific dance artists, the Pacific Dance Festival is hitting the road in 2021 – expanding to four venues around Auckland this June and visiting arts festivals around the country with their world-class performances this year. Continuing their expansive commitment to platforming Pacific artists of all kinds, the offerings in this year’s programme include a fashion extravaganza and a live Pacific jazz performance, alongside both contemporary and traditional dance forms from across the Pacific.
The core Auckland-based programme in June is a combination of works that were programmed as part of the cancelled 2020 Festival, and brand-new works developed by artists during the pandemic, reflecting the urgency and capacity of artists to reflect the world around us. The Festival will launch on May 18, hosted by the preeminent venue for dance in the country – the ASB Waterfront Theatre in central Auckland – before the spectacular theatre plays host to two of the biggest dance events to happen in Aotearoa post-COVID.
The enchanting and playfully intriguing Shel We? by award winning choreographer Tupua Tigafua finally hits way to ASB Waterfront’s glorious stage on June 1, showcasing Tigafua’s off-beat style and brilliant metaphorical imagery in his poetry and illustrations in a live format. Delivering a tribute to his parents, his family, and the environment that has inspired him over the years, Shel We? features a stellar cast of outstanding dancers performing this work from one of the most ingenious storytellers of his generation. 
One of the most celebrated works of Pacific dance-theatre returns to Auckland as part of the 2021 Festival programme, with MĀUI performing on its biggest stage to date at ASB Waterfront, with an evening performance on June 5 complementing three school matinee performances. Created by Hadleigh Pouesi and Fresh MovementMĀUI sold-out its premiere run as part of the 2019 Fringe Festival and the 2019 Pacific Dance Festival, with its captivating combination of dance, music, and physical theatre to tell stories loved across the Pacific by young and old.
The Festival adds two new Auckland venues to the 2021 programme, reaching across the region with innovative and unique offerings. Taking over the Auckland War Memorial Museum on June 15, AUĒ and Vivian Hosking-Aue will present Te Pō – a dance and fashion showcase. A celebration of Pacific people of all sizes and genders, this release from Vivian’s AUĒ LINE of unique garments is the height of Pacific couture fashion. The bright, bold, and beautiful will be showcased in both the fashion and in dance, performed by AUĒ Dance Company with their celebrated style that blends both traditional, street, and contemporary practices.
The other new venue for 2021 – TAPAC – hosts an exciting new format performed by The CollectivePacific Jazz. Meeting at the University of Auckland’s music programme, The Collective is both a band and a community for Pacific music students, recognised for their talents in competitions such as Tangata Beats and Auckland Council’s Stand Up Stand Out. They perform in a showcase of jazz by talented young Pacific creatives on June 6.
The bulk of the programme will be performed at the Festival’s birthplace – the Mangere Arts Centre, with four full-length shows. Headlining the offerings at MAC is the premiere performance of Faces of Nature on June 11, by new arts collective Ta’alili led by husband and wife dance duo Aloalii Tapu and Tori Manley-Tapu. Working as a team of designers, choreographers, artists, and performers, Ta’alili are world-builders – encompassing film, dance, visual art, and stage design, to build works that reflect and shape their dreams and perspectives of the world.
The performance programme is completed by the annual MOANA short works showcase featuring emerging artists Lomina Araitia, Desiree Soo-Choon, Litara Ieremia-Allan, Ankaramy Fepuleai, Chas Samoa, and The New Zealand School of Dance (June 8); the explosive HYPAMASS from Connor ‘Ooshcon’ Masseurs which combines Krump with dance-theatre in a personal journey of masculinity (June 17); and the Double-Bill, created and performed by the 2019 Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab artists – Villa Junior Lemanu presenting his new work Atali’i O Le CREZENT and Raisedinland Iose presenting the redevelopment of his work XY ONLY (June 18).
The Auckland programme is rounded out by a series of free workshops and the annual Dance on Screen curated selection of dance films.
Pacific Dance New Zealand Director Iosefa Enari says “The 2021 Pacific Dance Festival features a larger group of artists, some who have been bought back from last year. Not only is our festival bigger, but we are excited to announce our new partnerships with the likes of the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Measina Festival, Te Tairawhiti Arts Festival, Aronui Indigenous Arts Festival and Kia Mau Festival in Wellington. Extending our traditional June festival season outside of Auckland to the regional centres and festivals is our commitment to broaden our reach, develop our audiences, and give our artists more opportunities for performances.”

Pacific Dance New Zealand is also hitting the road in 2021. Continuing their relationship with artists based in Wellington, PDNZ are delighted to be premiering a full-length work at Kia Mau Festival. An exploration of motherhood and mana wāhine playing June 16 & 17, TINĀ is the brand-new work from ground-breaking collective TULOU, created by Ufitia Sagapolutele, Faith Schuster, and Lyncia Müller. This work is presented in collaboration with Pacific Dance within the Festival’s dates. Pacific Dance New Zealand will also be touring works to Rotorua’s Aronui Arts Festival, Wellington’s Measina Festival and Gisborne’s Te Tairawhiti Festival in 2021.
Tuesday 1st – Saturday 29th June

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