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Scholarship awarded to Wellington choreographer

6 October 2000

Scholarship awarded to
Wellington choreographer


Merenia Gray has been awarded the inaugural Tup Lang Scholarship for choreography in contemporary dance, announced this week by the Arts Board of Creative New Zealand.

The Wellington choreographer received a $30,000 grant from the Arts Board to support the premiere season of a new work called Wild Civility.

This grant includes the amount of $10,000, which comprises the Tup Lang Scholarship. The scholarship is the result of a bequest made last year by Gwendolyn Lang’s estate.

Wild Civility will be presented in five sections, beginning with a dance depicting the effects of globalisation and culminating in a celebration of our souls and our New Zealand identity.

“I feel very strongly about globalisation and its effects on our humanity,” Merenia Gray says. “I realise it’s enhancing our lives but we also need to hold on to our traditional values, our cultural identities and our sense of community.”

Gray is keen to tour the show after its six-night season at Wellington’s Te Whaea Theatre in mid 2001, particularly to the South Island where she has strong networks through her work with the Wearable Art Awards and her iwi affiliation of Ngai Tahu.

At the moment, however, she is focusing on a successful Wellington season.

Gray, who spent several years dancing overseas before returning to New Zealand in 1996, has performed for all the major choreographers in New Zealand and danced in Munich, Copenhagen, Seville, New York, Paris and Sydney.

With Wild Civility, she wants to reach a wide cross-section of the community - something she achieved with an earlier work, Alchemy, which averaged 80 per cent houses and was awarded Best New Work in the 1998 Fringe Festival in Wellington.

Her most recent work was choreographing Valley of the Birds, a rock opera celebrating Karori Normal School’s 125th anniversary and performed in July 2000. She also created Pounamu, which was performed by the Auckland Dance Company at the WOMAD Festival in Auckland last year.

Gray is involved in a number of other choreographic projects, and also teaches at the New Zealand School of Dance, Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School and the Wellington Performing Arts Centre.

She has been commissioned by Toi Maori Aotearoa to create a new work, which involves working with mau raku (the art of weaponry), Wellington composer Gareth Farr and Nelson musician Richard Nunns.

She is also creating a work for Footnote Dance, which will premiere at the Bay of Islands Arts Festival in March 2001 before touring New Zealand.

The Tup Lang Scholarship will be formally presented to Merenia Gray at a small gathering at Creative New Zealand in December.


ends


For further information contact:
Iona McNaughton
Communications Writer
Creative New Zealand
Tel: 04-498 0715

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