Happy homecoming for DANZ’s 2019 Māori Dance Residency recipient
Dance Aotearoa New Zealand (DANZ), has selected Sophie Williams (Te Arawa, Ngāpuhi), as the recipient of the 2019 Te Kanikani Whakamātau/Māori Dance Residency. The residency is being delivered for the first time in Rotorua by DANZ in partnership with Lakes Performing Arts Centre (LPAC) and with funding support from the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust.
Sheryl Lowe, DANZ Executive Director says; “As a hub for Māori arts and culture, Rotorua was an obvious choice to host this year’s dance residency. Te Kanikani Whakamātau aims to expand the choreographic expression of Māori dance artists in Aotearoa reflecting their artistic vision in the 21st century”.
Sophie will be based at the LPAC studios from 21 October – 1 November 2019 and will have the opportunity to work with dancers and access to a dance mentor throughout the two week period of the residency. At the end of the residency she will present what she has generated in the form of a public showing and/or discussion to be hosted at Te Puia.
Raised in Rotorua, Sophie left in 2010 to attend The University of Auckland where she graduated in 2013 with a Dance Studies degree with Honours. She recently finished her PhD, exploring Haka Theatre performance practice through a critical reflection on personal pūrākau (narratives) and experiences of four kaihaka (performers) from the Auckland-based performing arts group, Hawaiki Tū Haka Theatre Company.
“I am excited for the opportunity to return to my home town, Rotorua for this residency to develop my practice. This fits within my desire to extend my interest and specialisation in dance to the field of performing arts and education. I plan to build and create a relevant, effective and dynamic Indigenous performance and educational practice and model that can provide opportunities for learning and engaging with new audiences through performing arts”, says Sophie.
Dance residencies fill a vital gap and respond to a need for more dance development platforms for independent dance artists contributing in a very direct and positive way on their professional growth.
Rebecca Brake, LPAC Director says; “This project is very important for the support and growth of dance in Rotorua as it creates another accessible opportunity for our community to enjoy the extensive benefits of dance, and provide platforms that will expand opportunities for practitioners to develop their craft and outreach”.
Sophie’s residency project, Iho - the heart or essence will explore movement with artists; intergenerational learning/sharing/exchange opportunities between Kaumātua and rangatahi, to consider how a collective like this might work in Rotorua’s dance community.
“This will be the first step for me to create a work of my own and to connect with the people here in Rotorua, where I am based”, says Sophie.
Te Puia, home of the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute will provide the venue for a community event/public showing arising out of the residency. Tim Cossar, CEO of Te Puia says, “Encompassing the movement forms of tangata whenua is an important part of our programme. We look forward to hosting the showing of Sophie’s work from this residency to enhance our existing programme of cultural performances to provide audiences with enriching and entertaining experiences of our fascinating culture”.
“DANZ is thrilled to bring Te Kanikani Whakamātau to a provincial centre for the first time and to provide this opportunity for Sophie to develop her practice in her home town. Sophie is a past recipient of a scholarship with the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust, who has generously provided funding support for this residency, so it’s also a wonderful opportunity for her to give back to the community by applying her skills and experience to benefit the people and places in Rotorua."