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Black Grace – Rumours of Paradise, collecting memories and visions

John Daly-Peoples

Black Grace – Paradise Rumour

SkyCity Theatre

June 7

John Daly-Peoples

Later this week in Sharjah, one of the larger cities of the United Arab Emirates Black Grace will be performing a newly commissioned work at the Biennial Festival 15. Then on June 7th they will perform the same work in Auckland  at SkyCity Theatre .

The new work “Paradise Rumour” has evolved out of the choreographer Neil Ieremia’s  poem which addressed issues of colonisation, adaptation and the pressures of contemporary life.

A line from his text (see below) – “renovating my culture to fit in an apartment box” seems particularly perceptive about the way cultural forms are adapted, reimagined and made relevant.

At a recent  preview of the work four dancers performed with highly charged movements typical of Ieremia’s choreography. The dancing was stylised some of it being performed with three dancers standing one behind each other as though a living totem, At other times they moved deftly around the floor, searching and discovering.

In their totemic like stance the dancer’s arms were like semaphore signalling, a rudimentary form of communication but one which had a delicacy and an urgency.

Neil Ieremia says, “Paradise Rumour is an extension of my 2009 work Gathering Clouds, a response to an economist’s discussion paper on Pacific migration titled “Growing Pains: The valuation and cost of human capital and the impact of Pacific migration on the New Zealand economy”.  The Human Rights Commission released a review of Dr. Clydesdale’s paper titled ‘Pacific Peoples in New Zealand; review of the public controversy about a discussion paper on immigration policy and the economic contribution of Pacific migrants to New Zealand’.  It found that the paper was poorly researched and prejudiced, I couldn’t help but feel that the damage had already been done”. 

Ieremia adds, “The provocation for Paradise Rumour, was based on the central question of, how far have we really come since then?”

Paradise Rumour bounces back and forth through time and space, starting with the arrival of the missionaries to the Pacific, and collecting memories, visions, experiences both personal and collective. 

Weaving together four separate parts of the same experience within the one person, the first dancer represents hope + resistance, the second sorrow + acceptance, the third control + release, and the fourth faith + crisis.

Paradise Rumour with and original soundtrack by Anonymouz features six performers including dancers, Demi-Jo Manalo, Rodney Tyrell and Faith Schuster. 

Paradise Rumour by Neil Ieremia (2008)

Here come the skybreakers, god traders

renovating my culture to fit in an apartment box

with a flat screen and a flat nose

dressed in white with black book measles, muskets and blankets

Flavour said ‘fight the power’

hand vs. knife,

knife vs. gun,

gun vs. bigger gun vs. bigger bomb, vs. bigger budget vs. bigger dick, vs. nothing left

to touch, feel, eat, see, or love

I who am

Must assimilate, replicate, dislocate, shut the gate so the sheep don’t relocate

to Australia, where the tax rate is lower,

human rights is slower

I will return to her someday

Samoa

I owe her

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By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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