Performance personifies power of women

MIKE MATHER
Last updated 10:22 31/07/2014
Mana Wahine
Manukau Courier/Supplied

INTEGRITY AND GRACE: Scenes from Mana Wahine, which is being staged at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts tomorrow and Sunday.

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A dance production that pays tribute to the strength, integrity, grace and beauty of the female form is about to return to Hamilton in its final state.

Mana Wahine has been a work in progress for more than two years. The production, created by Okareka Dance Company, was first unveiled to the public in February at the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival.

Having already proven itself to be one of New Zealand's most dynamic companies through its critically acclaimed national tours of Tama Ma (2009), Nga Hau E Wha (2011) and last year's acclaimed K Rd Strip, Okareka is demonstrating its continual mould-breaking pieces internationally as well. Audiences in the United States, Australia and China have witnessed the power of its work. Most recently the company took its show to The Netherlands as part of the Holland Dance Festival.

Having given Waikato audiences a small taste of Mana Wahine, Okareka will return to Hamilton to unveil the fully formed work in all its power and glory at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts for two performances, tomorrow and Sunday.

Artistic directors Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete have led a high-calibre creative team to present 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 single-handedly saved her people from slaughter.

The story of Te Aokapurangi has been the pivotal inspiration behind this work. Her courage, determination and fearlessness has fuelled the choreographic style explored and developed in the piece.

Okareka invites leading choreographers, dancers and designers when devising a new work and Mana Wahine is no exception, with Royal and Mete sharing the choreographic floor with World of WearableArt (WOW) artistic director Malia Johnston. It is a process that allows each artist to organically indulge their talents without restriction and achieve high levels of creativity.

It will also be the first time that the choreography will be layered in such a way that it becomes seamless. Performers Bianca Hyslop, Maria Munkowits, Nancy Wijohn, Chrissy Kokiri and Jana Castillo have been selected for this work not just for their experience as dancers but for their experiences as women.

Formed in 2007, Okareka was established to fuse contemporary dance with Maori themes and other genres to create authentic, diverse works. Led by Mete and Royal, Okareka has become one of New Zealand's most sought-after and prolific dance companies.

Mana Wahine is touring New Zealand as part of the 2014 Matariki Festival's Matariki Under the Stars tour.

BE THERE

What: Okareka Dance Company presents Mana Wahine

Where: Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts

When: 7.30pm, August 1 and 5pm, August 3

Tickets: $25 to $30, through ticketek.co.nz

Website: okareka.com 

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- Waikato Times

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