15 Dec 2022
Indigenous story telling through dance
Arts Grants offer short-term support for projects that encourage innovation and the development of practitioners and organisations. For Eddie Elliot, the extra support, he says will enable him to advance further in his practice of being an indigenous dancer and help better tell the stories of his people overseas.
Born in Hamilton and raised in Wellington, Eddie says it's his whakapapa to Ngāti Maniapoto and Waikato Tainui that provides him with a solid foundation here in Aotearoa and on his travels across the globe.
He’s a celebrated dance choreographer who has made a name for himself in the global dance community. Before COVID-19 he was travelling across Canada and the US with an indigenous dance company, Red Sky Performance.
Since returning home at the beginning of the pandemic he’s used the time to recentre and reconnect to Te Ao Māori and Te Reo Māori, which he says is crucial to being authentic in his practice.
As a freelance dancer and choreographer, Eddie says he’s learned so much from Māori dance and theatre companies such as Atamira and Hawaiki Tū. Having already taught and danced with Red Sky Performance in Canada, he’s excited to head back to continue working on what he describes as important Indigenous storytelling.
“As indigenous storytellers, we’re able to use all our senses to portray the story. Everything has a voice; your words, the way you move and expressions, it's everything,” he said.
“Being a part of an indigenous global dance community is so special. We do what indigenous do best - share our knowledge, our world views, our wins, and our trauma to better shape our craft through movement,” he said.
Red Sky Performance's vision is to lead the evolution of Indigenous performance. Eddie will travel back Canada in early January 2023 where he’ll feature in the production Miigis; the catalyst for trade routes stories from the Atlantic Coast to the Great Lakes.
Visual Arts collective, Te Mata Aho, were also successful in their bid for support from the latest Arts Grants funding round. They have been invited to showcase their works at Asia’s longest running biennale. The Gwangju Biennale in South Korea will see 50 artists and organisations, including the all-wāhine collective, showcase their work.
The biennale was founded in 1995 in memory of the civil uprising and the repression of the Gwangju Democratisation Movement. It attracts influential directors, curators, writers and critics from around the world. Previous biennales attracted a daily average of 9,000 visitors per day.
Creative New Zealand’s International and Initiatives manager, Amanda Hereaka is excited to see New Zealand artists get back out into the world following Covid 19 constraints, to share their experiences and knowledge.
“In Te Ao Māori, kanohi ki te kanohi ,or face to face contact, is crucial to artist’s development. It enables an exchange of ideas and knowledge between cultures and strengthens relationships with international peers and collaborators. These opportunities support practice development through understanding an artist’s own practice within an international context. We’re proud to support kaupapa that strengthen those connections,” she said.
This weekend, Te Mata Aho will open their latest works at Te Papa entitled Te Puni Aroaro.