Black Grace 20 for 20

Human Language (2002), Neil Ieremia
Human Language (2002), Neil Ieremia
 Black Grace leaves the stage to a standing ovation
Black Grace leaves the stage to a standing ovation

Black Grace were in Ōtaki late November performing to a packed hall. Hardly advertised at all, the show drew a capacity crowd, and we gave them a standing ovation.

This was the 15th performance in Black Grace’s ’20 for 20’ tour around New Zealand celebrating twenty years of the company in twenty towns and costing only $20 a ticket.

 Fa’afetai (2013) Neil Ieremia
Fa’afetai (2013) Neil Ieremia

Neil Ieremia founded Black Grace, originally an all-male company, with Pacifica dancers. His choreography draws on Samoan as well as New Zealand experience and is energetic, powerful, exciting, sometimes funny sometimes fierce, and always mesmerising.

Another word that comes to mind for Black Grace works is ‘sculptural’ — those moments when the dancers are not actually moving.

Tautua (2015) — To serve, Siaosa Mulipola
Tautua (2015) — To serve, Siaosa Mulipola

We saw Neil’s works drawn from those twenty years as well as premières of works from choreographers Sean McDonald and Siaosi Mulipola.

My favourite was Minoi (1999). The music is sung by the dancers — it is a haunting and beautiful piece by Neil.

Wanganui, Ōtaki and Porirua were their three lower North Island stops.

It’s refreshing for smaller towns to be privileged like this — perhaps Neil’s roots in Porirua did us a favour there. It was a very slow queue to get in, but I’ll be queuing up again to see them, next chance I get.

 Fa’afetai (2013) Neil Ieremia
Fa’afetai (2013) Neil Ieremia