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Jack Gray Dance presents . . .


17-20 Sept, 8.30pm
Dance Your Socks Off Festival
BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce
Bookings: 802 4175 or Cost: $18/13

A subtle and spiritual dance about the nature of love

Tuawhenua is a poetic Maori contemporary dance theatre performance about the nature of love and loss, turmoil through separation and a transformation into a new life.

Meaning ‘hinterland’ or ‘interior’, Tuawhenua also implies something beyond the earth and beyond the flesh – a spiritual release like a heartfelt sigh. Nature acts as a metaphoric canvas for the troubled heart, evoking sensations of ice, ocean, butterflies, clouds and pine trees.

Two dancers (Nancy Wijohn and Shannon Mutu) weave together different perspectives of the “lover” and the “departed”, in a compelling love story about the discoveries that come from heartbreak and resurrection. The dance is experienced through a delicate unfolding of time and space, inspired by Kabuki Theatre evoking a Chinese Zen Garden.

Tuawhenua is shown through innovative contemporary dance directed by Jack Gray, set to an intricately manipulated soundscape produced by Charlotte 90. Jack Gray Dance is an Auckland-based Maori contemporary dance company that collaborates with contemporary and traditional performing artists. Their recent works include: Electrify Walk Bride (Generation Project 2007) and View from the Gods (Body Festival and Tempo Festival 2006).

A freelance dance artist since 1999, Jack Gray has worked internationally in Austria, Czech Republic, France, Hawaii, Malta, New Caledonia, Serbia and Taiwan. He is currently a dancer in projects such as Atamira Dance Collective and has performed recently in Wellington with Maui (2006) and Sleep/Wake workshop (2008).

“I am very excited to debut my own project in Wellington. It is a vision that I have conceptualised over a period of time that continues to evolve and grow. I was inspired after being within nature and feeling the vibrations of the land, water and sky, feed my creative spirit in a nourishing way. I wanted to capture the essence of this feeling and find a way to tell a story about the impressions of love and loss that are left imprinted in our memories and bodies. The company I am collaborating with have all offered beautiful insights into how the work is told and conveyed”.Jack Gray

Tuawhenua is his Dance Your Socks Off Festival and Bats Theatre debut.

Also featuring live taonga puoro played by Wellington's Alistair Fraser and actress Ngapaki Emery (Vula)


“A suspended Manu (bird) kite projected over the rear wall screen was the backdrop for a video of complex visual rhythms, excerpts of Te Reo, Len Lye-inspired ribbons of light, galactic suns, set to a soundtrack that pulsated like a dance-floor heart beat” – Francesca Horsley, NZ Listener (View from the Gods, 2006).

“Tepid air streamed in through the opened up side of the studio. The night sky and the trees outside created the perfect backdrop. As the audience was seated on either side of the performance space, one had the rare opportunity to watch spectators while the performance was unfolding” – Dagmar Simon, DanzNet (Apparent, 2005).

“In one sequence, the dancers turned and shifted both as restless sleepers and as dunes constantly reshaped by the wind. Evocative costumes, see-through grainy black, hinted at desert nights, and the soundtrack shifted between dream worlds and longing” – Francesca Horsley, NZ Listener (Solace, 2003).


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