Black Grace NZ Dance group review


Recently I wrote a post promoting the upcoming Black Grace New Zealand Dancers in Delft and now have the pleasure of writing a review.

I attended on February 11th, 2016 at the Theater de Veste in Delft.  What a powerful performance!  My Australian friend and I sat captivated the whole time.  It was a relatively short evening at just over an hour, but there was more than enough energy packed into that time.

Eight+ amazing dancers took us on a journey, narrated in between by the very talented and charming artistic director and choreographer, Neil Ieremia.  The program brought together five performances, selected from over 20 years of the Black Grace repertoire:

Pati Pati: amazing use of body percussion, influenced by the Samoan Sasa (seated dance) and Fa’ataupati (slap dance).  This just blew me away at how incredibly rhythmic and hypnotic it was, and what is possible with the body.  Both a workout and work of art for the dancers!  And a privilege for the audience.

Human Language: inspired by the body language between men and women at the spark of romance.  I loved the use of balloons in this piece – clever, colourful and funny.  Neil explained that this routine was developed when women first joined the originally all-male dance group.

Gathering Clouds: related to personal experiences of an article Niel read about immigration from the islands and the effect on the New Zealand economy.  It was an interesting mix of music and movement, bringing together drumming, prayer, and classical music.

Mother Mother: this was first developed for a video clip for the band Fat Freddy’s Drop, and I will post the online version of it below.  It was performed slightly differently I think, but this video gives you an idea of the talent of the dancers….and I love the song too!

Minoi: a unique mix of Samoan dancing with the Fa’ataupati (slap dance) and even Sesame Street!  (You had to be there to understand how this just worked).  I found an early online version clip here: 

While in the Netherlands, Black Grace also performed in Drachten, Groningen, Helen and Tilburg.

The words that come to mind when thinking about the whole performance are power, strength, rawness, and, of course, grace.  I’m not quite sure how to explain it, but there is something really special about the angles the dancers use, the movements are not like I’ve seen in any other dance performances before.  The closest I’ve seen is the Haka, but this was much broader than that.  Overall, it evokes many positive emotions and even ancient memories.  Beautiful.

If you ever have the chance to see these dynamic dancers anywhere in the world, I highly recommend you take it.


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