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Creative NZ Launches Contemporary Dance Strategy

“These are exciting times as contemporary dance in New Zealand
continues to forge new directions. New Zealand is no longer an
isolated archipelago at the end of the world, but is woven into a
global fabric.” - Choreographer Lemi Ponifasio

Creative New Zealand today launches Moving to the Future: Ngä Whakanekeneke atu ki te Ao o Apöpö, its strategy for professional contemporary dance.

Creative New Zealand believes it is vital that the future of this country’s dance sector is secure and strong. Chief Executive of Creative New Zealand, Elizabeth Kerr, says contemporary dance has played a pivotal role in showing us how the cultures of this country can work together.

“ New Zealand has an extraordinary contemporary dance tradition and this has become a powerful expression of our place in the Pacific,” Elizabeth Kerr says. “Our dance practitioners have provided us with a wealth of original work which is now embedded in our culture, and many of New Zealand’s talented choreographers have put our unique style of contemporary dance on the international stage.”

The strategy represents the views of the professional dance sector. Creative New Zealand staff have been working for the past 18 months with the sector to develop Moving to the Future. Five focus group meetings took place during May and June 2001 with representatives of the dance profession. Their expertise and views helped develop a strategy aimed at encouraging the long-term growth and development of the artform.

Moving to the Future provides a framework for change and suggests its implementation is the responsibility of the whole dance sector. There are 21 recommendations in the strategy. As a first step in responding to these recommendations, Creative New Zealand’s Arts Board will tender for a feasibility study to scope the concept of a national dance house.

This study will be undertaken independently. Its focus will be national and it will examine in detail issues raised by the sector about administration, production, marketing and touring support. It will also look at the space and resources required for dedicated choreographic research and development, which the sector has identified as a key priority.
“This as an opportunity for us all to look to a future where contemporary dance in this country continues to flourish, is valued by audiences and participants and nurtures creative talent,” Elizabeth Kerr says.

Moving to the Future is an initiative developed through Creative New Zealand’s Future Strengths strategy, which was made possible through additional one-off funding from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Package. Future Strengths aims to encourage a vibrant and sustainable professional arts infrastructure in New Zealand.

The strategy identified two major initiatives as priorities for New Zealand dance. The first was a dance conference, Future Moves 2001, which took place in April 2001 and provided a rare opportunity for New Zealand dance professionals to discuss key issues affecting the sector and reflect on possible strategies for change. The second initiative was the development of a contemporary dance strategy.

The strategy outlines four main objectives:
to strengthen the creative development and professional practice of individual dancers and choreographers
to strengthen and make more visible the contribution of Mäori contemporary dance to the sector
to maintain existing, and develop new, audiences for “New Zealand-made” professional contemporary dance
to support and develop structures for the growth, promotion and presentation of professional contemporary dance in New Zealand

Moving to the Future: Ngä Whakanekeneke atu ki te Ao o Apöpö also includes individual written perspectives on contemporary dance in New Zealand by six practitioners: Douglas Wright, Lemi Ponifasio, Stephen Bradshaw, Tina Hong, Sean Curham and Helen Winchester.


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