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6th November 2012

The Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory 2012 -

Watch Nita Latu's group perform on the GoodMorning Show (TVOne).

Saturday,10th November, 7pm

Mangere Arts Centre - Ngā Tohu Uenuku

The Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory 2012 promises to showcase a broad slice of Auckland's Pacific dance talent. Ranging from street and hip-hop to contemporary and classical Polynesian dance, the Pacific Dance Choreo Lab brings together talent from youth (Secondary) students, to Unitec Department of Performing and Screen Arts dance students, to more experienced professional dancers in a laboratory where experimentation is key.

This year, the fourth year of the Lab, 3 selected choreographers - Tupua Tigafua (Black Grace, Mau, New Zealand Dance Company), Nita Latu (3rd Year Bachelor of Dance Studies) and Dr Maile Giffin (Polynesian Entertainers) have embarked on a journey to discover and develop their various dance visions to create 3 very different and distinct dance works.

Tupua Tigafua (Samoan), coming from a contemporary dance background, has been working with four Unitec dance students to develop his work – ‘Shel We’. Although previously devised in ‘En Route’ earlier this year, Tupua wanted to develop this work into a larger piece. His inspiration comes from a book he found in his childhood, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (1964), who also wrote for ‘Sesame St’. Here, Tupua seeks to capture the humour and wit of Shel’s writing along with the simplicity of space shown in his drawings and to explore within this the Samoan concept of the ‘Va’ (the space between).

Nita Latu’s (Tongan) piece, ‘We are Who we Are’, on the other hand is firmly based in youth dance; street and hip-hop with elements of contemporary. Nita’s subject matter deals with the disturbing topic of youth suicide and she has worked with Secondary students in order to seek a ‘true’ expression of the feelings of this age group while seeking not only to address the issue but to find ways to give hope in a world sometimes seemingly overwhelming. This piece promises to be a hard-hitting account and expression of the urban youth experience today.

Dr Maile Giffin (Hawai’ian) has stuck to Hawaiian expression in her piece – ‘Changes of our Land’ in which she explores the changing face of Hawai’i from the 1700’s into the modern day tourist Mecca it has become. Maile has worked with more experienced dancers (who have not done Hawai’ian dance before) to create a piece showing off the range of Hawai’ian movement from Kahiko (ancient forms) to Auana (modern forms). This piece promises to tell a story, large in its scope but also intimate in its delivery.

This year’s laboratory was mentored by Iosefa Enari, director of Pacific Dance New Zealand and the former convener of the ‘Pacific Music and Dance’ programme at the University of Auckland. Iosefa has also held posts at Te Wananga o Aotearoa as the curriculum leader of Pacific dance studies as well as BEST Training where he was instrumental in developing the Pacific Institute of Performing Arts (PIPA) programme.

Iosefa's mentoring approach this year was based on ‘the business side of dance’ where Sefa focused this year’s choreographers not only on choreogrpahic values but also on the business of organisation, scheduling, budgeting and the business of moving into dance theatre production.

2012 has seen 20 dancers from around Auckland come together under the vision of these three up and coming Pacific dance choreographers and their mentor. 

The dancers are: 

We Are Who We Are - Byron Fa'aui, Heidi-lee Roberts, Sharna Tamatu, Lineti Latu, Pamela McHardy, Rodney Tyrell, Kyle Te Whata, Leticia Fortes, Nita Latu

Changes of Our Land - Lulu French, Inna Schwalger, Lavinia Uhila, Leki Bourke, Mario Faumui, Terara Tune

We Shall See Shel on the Sea Shore - Christopher Tevita Ofanoa, Aloali’i Tapu, Adam Naughton, Kosta Bogoievski, Tupua Tigafua

This year’s laboratory showing on Saturday, 10th November, 7pm, Mangere Arts Centre, promises to showcase a slice of the tremendous talent coming out of one of the fastest growing arts sectors in the country – Pacific Dance. And, it’s free!! Not to be missed.

For media enquiries email, marketing@pacificdance.co.nz for general enquiries or to RSVP auckland@pacificdance.co.nz, phone: 376 00 60.





11th September 2012

Re: Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab 2012 is a Go!!

Pacific Dance New Zealand in association with DANZ, Auckland Council and the Southside Arts Festival with support from Mangere Arts Centre, Corbans Arts Estate and Unitec's Department of Performing and Screen Arts is proud to announce the 2012 choreographers leading the Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory. 

They are: Tupua Tigafua, Nita Latu and Maile Giffin.

These up-and-coming choreographers will work through a two-month period to develop dance works ranging from contemporary to heritage Pacific dance with twenty dancers from a range of backgrounds.

The choreographers will also receive mentoring from Iosefa Enari, director of Pacific Dance New Zealand and the former convener of the Pacific Music and Dance programme at the University of Auckland. Iosefa has also held posts at Te Wananga o Aotearoa as the curriculum leader of Pacific dance studies as well as BEST Training where he was instrumental in developing the Pacific Institute of Performing Arts (PIPA) programme.

Tupua Tigafua has had years of dance experience working with such prestigious dance companies as Black Grace, Mau Dance Company and most recently with the New Zealand Dance Company. Tupua is a New Zealand born Samoan and says this influences his work intrinsically as an essence even though he does contemporary dance and it may not be obvious to the viewer. His work – Shel We - is based on inspiration from a book he found in his childhood, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (1964). Here, Tupua wishes to capture the humour and wit of Shel’s writing along with the simplicity of space shown in his drawings. Tupua elucidates;

“Through my work I want to explore the notion of weaving together the ideas of comic sequence through timing and poetic imagery. Using my memories of school and joking round with the boys at the tuck shop, to my experiences being in a professional creative environment as a starting point.”

Having an all-male cast also adds to Tupua’s ideas of “tom-foolery” as he says this is an expression of the humour of a PI male growing up in New Zealand and requires a fast, masculine movement counterbalanced by the gentleness of the male in attacking the musical pulse.

Nita Latu is currently in her third-year of a Bachelor of Dance Studies degree at the University of Auckland. She has had notable performances with Auckland’s Short and Sweet Dance Festival (where she won the ‘People’s Choice award), danced with Black Grace and their offshoot Urban Youth Movement, and most recently devised a dance work in the En Route series Come To.

Nita’s work deals with the troubling issue of youth suicide and especially relating to the Pacific community in urban Aotearoa. Nita while watching the news one night was disheartened by a report saying that;

“Pacific people who grow up here are even more likely to have depression or make suicide attempts.”

Asking the question – “Why has this hit our young Pacific people and what can I do about this issue?” Nita was spurred on to create a dance work to speak the voices of young strong Pacific people and remind young people of the powerful richness of Pacific culture (in her case a particularly Tongan culture) that is still present while we live through our everyday Westernised lives.

Her work is called We Are, Who We Are and uses contemporary Pacific motifs mixed with hip-hop movements and the more usual heritage Pacific movements of the past to convey a story acknowledging and confronting the issue of suicide while also delivering a message of hope.

Maile Giffin is the manager and choreographer of Polynesian Entetainers.  She started as a dancer with broad experience across different genres. Maile has an Hawaiian background but growing up in New Zealand trained in ballet from the age of five, Royal Academy of Dance. From here she moved into contemporary dance and over the past ten years has been focussed on Polynesian dance, especially Hawaiian – although she was introduced to hula by her mother as a child.  Moving back to New Zealand almost two years ago Maile joined Halau Hula Kahelelani no Aotearoa and the dance group Mana-O-Hula both based in Auckland. 

Maile’s piece Changes of our Land deals with the theme of change in the Hawaiian socio-political environment from King Kamehameha to modern Statehood under the United States.

Maile’s piece uses Kahiko (ancient) along with Auana (modern) styled Hawaiian dance mixed with contemporary movements to convey a story covering a couple major events over some two hundred years of history.

These three choreographers are embarking on a process of creation and discovery over three venues across Auckland over the next couple of months. They will be working with an assortment of dancers from very different dance styles and backgrounds – from school aged to young dancers from Unitec’s dance school to older professional dancers.

This year’s Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory promises to deliver the beginnings of something special.  Come and experience what these choreographers have to offer in a showing of works at the Mangere Arts Centre on Saturday 10th November at 7pm. Best thing – it’s free!!

For more information or media enquiries, please contact Pacific Dance New Zealand on Auckland@pacificdance.co.nz or phone 09 376 00 60.


31st August 2012


Submissions to the 2012 Pacific Dance Choreographic Laboratory have now closed but dancers who may wish to participate in this year's lab, please still feel free to send us your expressions of interest to - auckland@pacificdance.co.nz or phone +64 9 376 00 60.

We look forward to this year's choreo lab and hope you may be able to come and support this year's choreographers and dancers in their showing of works, which will happen on Saturday 10th November at the Mangere Arts Centre - Ngā Tohu o Uenuku.


April 2012


Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab 2012: Call for Submissions 

Pacific Dance New Zealand now invites New Zealand based Pacific Islands choreographers and dancers to apply for the Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab 2012 held between the 22nd October and 10th November 2012.

Choreographers are requested to submit an ‘expression of interest’ to the Pacific Dance Choreographic Selection Committee 2012 no later than 3pm, Friday 31st of August, 2012.

To qualify for this project, choreographers must present a proposal that will include:

• A CV with references

• the concept (what is your dance about?)

• the intended length of the work

• how many dancers (a solo, duet, trio etc)?

All applicants must be of Pacific Islands descent, be an emerging to mid-career choreographer, demonstrate in their submission that they will be able to complete the choreographic lab and submit a new work that has not been performed previously. This is a wonderful opportunity for Pacific Islands choreographers to create new works and have it promoted and developed.

The three choreographers selected for the choreographic lab will be provided with:

• A dance studio equipped with a sound system

• Dancers

• A mentor

• An allowance during the three-week choreographic lab

• Publicity and promotional opportunities

Each work will be presented at the closing night of the Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab 2012 to be held at the Mangere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku in Mangere on Saturday the 10th of November.

Location of project:

This project will be presented in Auckland City South as part of the Southside Arts Festival 2012. All successful applicants will be notified in early-September and workshops will take place from 22nd October to 10th November 2012 at several venues in Auckland.

Contact: Filoi Vaila’au, Pacific Dance Choreographic Lab,

Email to: auckland@pacificdance.co.nz, Phone: 09 376 00 60.

You can download an expression of interest form - here.