The Grand Dame of dance in Aotearoa to be made an honorary DANZ member
New Zealand is alive with dance; from children learning ballet in small community halls, to cultural groups enlivening festivals and celebrations, to hip-hop dancers in the street, to groups and individuals perfoming on the world stage – dance is everywhere.
On 12 December 2017, Dance Aotearoa New Zealand (DANZ) will acknowledge Shona Dunlop MacTavish’s contribution to dance by crowning her as its inaugural honorary member.
Shona opened her own dance studio in 1958 in Dunedin and set up Dunedin Dance Theatre in 1963. She has continued to teach and create for close to six decades and is still actively involved in dance today.
“To acknowledge Shona in this way is an important part of DANZ’s work to highlight the efforts of those who have contributed to making dance what it is today – to celebrate champions with the vision and drive to go against the norms, to stand up and speak out, to rally others and to be a beacon for what you believe in. Shona is a very worthy recipient of our first honorary DANZ membership”, says Anton Carter, DANZ Chief Executive.
A great turnout of dance and non dance people throughout New Zealand are expected to attend the event which will be hosted in Dunedin by DANZ, in partnership with the Regent Theatre. Sarah Anderson, Director of Regent Theatre says, “We are thrilled to co-present this event with DANZ and have it take place at Regent Theatre where Shona has presented many of her works. We will pull out all stops to ensure the event reflects Shona’s standing in the Dunedin community and the incredible contribution she has made to dance in the region."
2017 has been a significant year for contemporary dance in Aotearoa with the 40th anniversary of the founding of Limbs Dance Company. MaryJane O’Reilly co-founder of Limbs says, “It’s fantastic that DANZ is acknowledging a legend like Shona Dunlop MacTavish. I've always felt it’s up to us - the dance profession and industry - to celebrate our own... then the young ones, the media and the general public will have a broader perspective and better appreciation of dance in our society.”
Shona’s longevity as a teacher and choreographer is a key aspect of her enduring legacy. Former students, dance colleagues and people acquainted with her are unanimous in their perception of her as an extraordinary human being with boundless joie de vivre and enthusiasm for the art of dance.
Even at 97 years, Shona is still dancing. “Of course, I have a little barre in the house, I do my battements and waves in the body. To use the entire body is a living statement that never seems to end,” says Shona.
DANZ membership is the vehicle in which DANZ supports the industry as a conduit or doorway for the dance community. DANZ works with the sector to support and nurture dance in New Zealand and create unique platforms that grow and feed dance.
“Shona has been a DANZ member since 2007. So, we are delighted to take this opportunity not only celebrate Shona, but elevate the value that DANZ places on our members and our membership programme” says Carter.