From art in a frame to art on the stage
Fri, 27 Jul 2012 10:51p.m.
By Laura Frykberg
For all its artistic merit one of the country's best known paintings, Charles Goldie's and Louis Steele's the Arrival of the Maoris in New Zealand, is widely accepted as being historically inaccurate.
And that is something which inspired a New Zealand choreographer to create a new dance production.
“The Goldie painting was a romanticised version of something that happened for the explorers, and as it turns out the Pacific navigators were great navigators and they were really clear about where they wanted to go, in the painting it's the wrong canoe, it's just wrong, they look like they're dying, so I wanted to respond to that by making my own version,” says choreographer Neil Ieremia.
That version is Waka, a dance production by Mr Ieremia's dance company Black Grace.
But turning a work of art, into art for the stage isn't easy, Mr Ieremia says he began with some patterns on the floor, which represent the way experts believe the first people to New Zealand got here.
“The old traditional navigators would use their fingers on the horizon to sort of see various points and know where to sail to, and they'd use a thing called a land wave, that would break differently as they got closer to land, and they'd follow birds when they had food in their mouths and they'd know they were heading towards land,” says Mr Ieremia.
While the production steers away from the inaccuracies of Goldie's work, to get his dancers physically ready for the challenge, Ieremia did borrow one idea.
“I said ok, we're all stuck on a boat, a life raft, it's been a hundred days you're looking at each other and starting to get hungry, you're looking at each other deciding who you want to throw off or eat, and it was very emotional,” he says.
It has also been tiring for the dancers - after tonight's show in Wellington - there's still a month of touring to go.
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