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PDNZ Choreographic Lab Setting Sail in the Capital

The Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory will for the first time set sail in Wellington, Aotearoa. 

Now in its eighth year the 'Choreo Lab' is a major platform for up-and-coming Pacific dance artists to explore, devise and perform new and original dance works in a supportive setting.

"Although we've had participants from outside Auckland in the past, we've always wanted to take it to new audiences and participants past its Auckland base where it has successfully showcased some of Aotearoa's best and brightest dance talent over the past eight years," says Pacific Dance New Zealand director Sefa Enari.

The 'Lab' has a focus on Pacific choreographers and has seen the creation of three works per year since 2009. Some past choreographers are: Tupua Tigafua, Justin Haiu, Jahra Wasasala, Nita Latu, Ojeya Cruz Banks and Charlene Tedrow just to name a few.

This years selected choreographers are: Filoi Vaila'au, Joash Fahitua and Selina Alefosio.

Filoi Vaila'au has been involved in the Pacific dance scene for a number of years, most notably as the administrator and project manager for Pacific Dance NZ (2010 - 2014), performing in groups such as 'Ariki Vaine Dance Troupe' and shows such as 'Fatu na Toto' by Tupe Lualua. Most recently Filoi performed in the Wellington season of 'The White Guitar' which re-sparked her passion for dance performance.

Filoi has a Bachelors of Performing Arts from Auckland University majoring in Pacific performing arts and choreographed and performed in her own work 'Moe Te'i Te'i' at TEMPO Dance Fest Duets season in 2012 - to rave reviews.

Filoi is also well known as a siva Samoa dance tutor and was a founding tutor of the Auckland based Kids Dance Pacific classes (2010 - 2014), which continues to run today. Since her return to Porirua, Filoi has established siva classes for children in the area. 

Filoi's piece for the lab is called - 'i'e Toga: A Samoan Women's Legacy' - which explores the movements and actions of the women who present Samoan fine mats (i'e toga) at events and ceremonies. Using siva Samoa as a dance form, Vaila'au explores the themes of 'respect, 'power' and 'honour' and the role of these women (usually older and holding special position) in these ceremonies.

Joash Fahitua, former Black Grace dancer (2012 - 2015) and P.I.P.A (Pacific Institute of Performing Arts) graduate. Joash recently has taken to the fitness world as a personal trainer. But he could never get away from dance. His work in the Choreographic Lab called 'Muamua' is his first outing as a full-blown choreographer and one he says he is enthusiastically looking forward to.

Muamua means 'first' in Samoan eluding in part to being his first choreographic work. It fuses contemporary dance and krump, a street style of movement. The ideas expressed in the piece include the idea of new life, a new beginning, a journey, the end of one and the start of another, merging the old with the new. Joash has drawn on aspects of his cultural heritage, practices and stories passed down by family as well as his own experiences as a New Zealand born Samoan dancer. “O lau tala Muamua lea na tusia” - this is my first story written.

Selina Alefosio has been the artistic director of 'O Mata Dance Group' (Tokelauan dance) for the past ten years. She has worked within the Lower Hutt community for a number of years as an arts manager as well as tutoring local high school cultural groups. Selina is a graduate of Whitireia Performing Arts and says she is very excited to be working through the process of this piece from beginning to end with a talented group of young women.

Her work 'Whatupaepae' explores the ideas around the concept of whatupaepae, which is described as women who share out food gathered by men in traditional Tokelauan culture. Alefosio explores the role of these women (as much more than described), taken from the inspiration of three generations of her own family as a NZ born Tokelauan. This for her is a celebration of these wonderful women who have inspired her to connect with her Tokelauan roots and carry on their traditions within Aotearoa.

Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab 2016

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