Δ (Change from Aotearoa): Archipelago
CONJAH (Jahra Wasasala & Ooshcon) and Jaycee Iman
Δ: Archipelago bridges the islands of Te moana nui a Kiwa (the Great Sea of Kiwa / the Pacific Ocean) and so-called “Australia” in real-time with Chunky Move’s 2023 Choreolab participants thumping it out at Dancehouse. We unite digitally with the party at Basement Theatre in Tāmaki Makaurau in a global live-streamed nightclub curated by our guests from Aotearoa as part of FRAME. It is a celebration and reclamation of our bodies, empowered by the lived experience of street-born dances. CONJAH (Jahra Wasasala/Ooshcon) and Jaycee Iman guide audiences, artists, and communities as we untangle the relationship between the contemporary dance canon and street-born forms from Black, Brown and Queer people.
Directors: CONJAH (Jahra Wasasala & Ooshcon) and Jaycee Iman
Live accompanists (Dancehouse): Pataphysics and Lay the Mystic
DJs (Basement Theatre): Blush and Spewer
Curators: Jonathan Homsey and Efren Pamilacan
Powa Wave by Hannah Bronte on loan courtesy from the artist in the Skylab
Alec Katsourakis, Amelia Jean O’Leary, Carolyn Ooi, Dan Jerinel Bay, David Prakash, Efren Pamilacan, Gabriela Quinsacara, Gabrielle Fallon, Giuliano Hammal, Harrison Hall, India Thomas, Kianna Dévine Orrici, Jada Narkle, Jareen Wee, Jasmin Luna, Jennifer Ma, Jonathan ‘Jonni’ Homsey, Joshua Lynch, Julai Dévine, Karlia Cook, Lana Ye Wang, MaggZ , Marcus Tan, Max Burgess, Naddie Dévine, Nicole Sanders, Nikko ‘Deloy’ de Jesus, Quan Tran, Rachel Lee, Samakshi Sidhu, Sami Smith, Samuel Beazley, Susana Le
Δ (Change from Aotearoa) is a talanoa/exchange between street dance leaders exploring the currents and tides of dance on Oceaniac lands. Read more about the program >>
Three years into this decade and we are continuing to swim in chaos. Resilient and triumphant, members of our communities have connected virtually and finally in person focusing on our needs for cultural safety on and off the dance floor.
This week has affirmed the parallels from our communities here in Naarm and in Tāmaki Makaurau. We are swimming together in these seas of turbulence and learning how to surf our emotions and systemic injustice. Our practices break from Western narratives of choreography, empowering a diverse ecology of aesthetics, taste-making, and world-building. As community leaders here in Naarm, the two of us see the centrality shifting. This centrality of what is contemporary in a dance canon in both of our countries has been largely colonial and homogenous in its tastes and preferences.
Creating through games, choosing family portraits, and negotiating cyphers in real time has shown us and our fellow participants that we create time travel. When immersed in the beat, our characters, the Gods of our dreams can come to the forefront. Dr Thomas Defrantz who spoke to us this week about this program said street dance can create an alchemy of time travel and we all felt it.
Thank you to the Australia Council of the Arts – International Engagement, Chunky Move, Dancehouse, Basement Theatre and Carriageworks for their insurmountable support in this project.
Love and Respect, Ef & Jonni
Efren Pamilacan is a dance maker and independent producer of Filipino descent living on the unceded lands of the Kulin nations. His work crosses cultural and social spheres, intersecting with hip-hop culture, underground dance forms and the contemporary arts sector. Efren aims to create space for new dance communities to thrive. He is a member of Jigsaw Sneakers, director of 9DIMES, founder of City Sessions and Cofounder of Cypher Culture and is currently working with Lay the Mystic, Saluhan collective, and House of Dévine. Efren holds a Master of Arts (Art in Public Space) and is currently assisting with the integration of Street Dance forms to VCA Dance.
Jahra Wasasala is a world-builder, movement psychopomp, and writer of realms. An award-winning artist, Jahra is of Viti/Fiji and Palagi origin, based in Aotearoa (New Zealand). Within the Islands of Viti, she hails from the provinces of Ba and Macuata. A student of mythology, her own bloodline and deepening her work within ancestral attunement, Jahra is deeply invested in the ancestral memory archive of the body that can be accessed through movement, character channelling and conceptual excavation within performance. Jahra and Ooschon collaborate and direct the artistic endeavour CONJAH, which researches the physicality of the beyond-physical body.
Jaycee Tanuvasa, AKA Jaycee Iman, is a prominent voice within the rainbow community as a Transgender and Pacific advocate and community leader. She has navigated her activism through various avenues such as Auckland Pride Board (2017), Village collective, Fine Fatale and Me Family Services Transitioning Together programme. She is a multifaceted artist, curator, producer, and performer, gathering Queer bodies to perform to sold out audiences. With years of experience in voluntary and self-funded initiatives and projects, Jaycee’s leadership as Founding Mother of House of Iman has made a positive impact on our wider pacific, LGBTQIA+ communities both in Aotearoa and Australia.
Jonathan Homsey is a choreographer and curator working from the position of a Queer Person of Colour based in Wurundjeri country. Originally an award-winning dancer for crews during the naughties in Southern California, he is humbled to have been a community leader in so-called Australia for the past decade galvanising people to dance. From Footscray Community Arts to Melbourne Museum, Jonathan specialises in platforming Street and Queer dance forms to cultivate empowerment for gender and ethnically diverse young people. He is a recent Green Room award winner for “I Am Maggie,” a commission with Melbourne Fringe Festival and Arts Centre Melbourne.
Ooshcon is an experimental Hip Hop movement artist of Samoan and Palagi origin. Ooshcon is an award-winning Hip Hop theatre choreographer, a respected Hip Hop and open-style battler, and a sought-after performer with extensive skills in a range of Street Dance styles. Ooshcon has choreographed and performed internationally, recently performing his solo work “Glitch” at the Grand Théâtre at the Maison de la Culture de Tahiti. Beyond the stage, Ooshcon is a mentor and facilitator of creative programmes for young people, focussing on empowering youth to find their voices through the intersection of movement and talanoa/conversation.
“Δ: Archipelago” is an outcome of Chunky Move’s Choreolab and is presented by Dancehouse with support from the Australia Council of the Arts. The “Change from Aotearoa (Δ)” project is supported by Australia Council of the Arts, Chunky Move, Dancehouse, Basement Theatre, and Carriageworks.