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Events & Exhibitions

Black Grace in Conversation

Dance, Pasifika
image Photography – Jinki Cambronero

Black Grace are currently touring their latest production Paradise Rumour in the US, but found time to speak to Toi Ōtautahi ahead of their performance in Christchurch on March 17. 

We started by asking what the company about the work…

Faith Schuster: A central question that inspired Neil in the creative process for Paradise Rumour was “How far have we come?”. How far have we come as Pacific people since the first encounters with the “settlers”, since migrating from the Pacific, since the Dawn Raids and most recently the apology by the then Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, but also how far have we come to accepting ourselves.

The work is inspired by our past, a reflection that in some aspects is not too dissimilar from our current reality. Looking back on our history, our beliefs and experiences have been shaped by what we’ve accepted. Values and traditions often sculpted without question.

The work has given us an insight to a very small portion of different memories, dreams and moments that we can connect to. There are aspects within us that we have inherited by being a seed of a generation that had to change, aspects that people may not be aware of. Co-existing and evolving in the hopes of a better future.

And the work is also that to me, an ode to a hopeful future ahead.

What’s been your process of creating/performing this latest work?

Faith Schuster: It’s been a roller coaster ride of discovery and understanding. Throughout the process my beliefs and perceptions of the world were challenged. I started questioning a lot of my own experiences which then forced me to try and understand where it all stemmed from.

Using that and the shared knowledge of the story, you try to collect images, feelings, experiences and references to help with the creative process. Therefore the movements become more than just moves, it’s history. It’s my understanding of that part of the story.

What do you enjoy most about performing this work?

Faith Schuster: I love the energy that it takes out of me. The emotional and physical energy that the work requires is so powerful that by the end of it, I don’t feel like myself. The work is literally an abstract representation of what my ancestors went through, what my parents went through, what we will have to go through.

Getting to experience even just a hint of the perseverance and resilience that my ancestors showed is something I have the privilege of having when performing this work.

Do you have any connection with Christchurch? Or does anyone in the company?

Sione Fataua: I was born in Auckland but raised in Christchurch. I have my immediate family that live here so I am so excited for them to see the show.

What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming touring schedule?

Demi-Jo Manalo: I’m most looking forward to being back on the road, performing and being able to share the work to new audiences.

How do you find Christchurch audiences when you perform here?

Sione Fataua: This will be my first time performing in Christchurch ever. So it’ll be a great experience to see what the audience is like and also for my family.

What do you hope audiences will take from Paradise Rumour?

Rodney Tyrell: A wider understanding of the history of our country. I recall an audience member telling me after a performance of Paradise Rumour that people next to her were surprised to hear about the experience of the Dawn Raids and asked her if that had really happened.

Black Grace perform one show only of Paradise Rumour at the Isaac Theatre Royal on March 17. 




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