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Why Do We Dance?

A conversation for artists with Lemi Ponifasio

'MAU: House of Night and Day' (2020), Lemi Ponifasio.
29 June 2022

Linen Room, Abbotsford Convent



Pre-booking essential. Workshop capacity is limited.

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Join international acclaimed artist and KCA Jury member Lemi Ponifasio in a conversation about dance as a space for developing human consciousness.

Lemi Ponifasio is a prolific theatre director, choreographer and artist and the founder and director of MAU, which focuses on arts and culture, avant-garde, and philosophy.

MAU seeks to transform the theatre’s power source, challenge the authority of theatre, and re-examine and question our current concept of what is human. It organizes the creation of new art, workshops, symposia, and community meetings; activities to build new systems of knowledge and new cultures to confront the economic-political-cultural-scientific and the ecological crisis of our time.

Artists interested in these ideas, practices and principles will join Lemi in a live conversation-come-workshop informed by Lemi’s body of practice.

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Lemi Ponifasio is acclaimed internationally for his radical approach to theatre, activism, and collaboration with communities.

While firmly established within the international avant-garde, Ponifasio grounds his work within communities and diverse Maori and Oceanic cultures, exploring complex forms of knowledge such as oratory, navigation, architecture, dance, performance, music, ceremony, philosophies, and genealogies as a driving force in emphasising local-oriented arts, indigenous cultural recovery, language and knowledge, thought and narratives that have been silenced or excluded.

After travelling and performing around the world for over a decade he returned to New Zealand and established MAU in 1995, as the philosophical foundation and direction of his work, the name of his work, and the people and communities he works with. MAU is the Samoan word that means the declaration to the truth of a matter as an effort to transform.

Lemi’s collaborators are people from all walks of life, working and performing in factories, remote villages, opera houses, schools, marae, castles, galleries, and stadiums. His projects have included fully staged operas, theatre, dance, exhibitions, community forums and festivals in more than 60 countries.

Lemi Ponifasio has presented his creations at the Festival d’Avignon, Lincoln Center New York, BAM New York, Ruhrtriennale, LIFT Festival London, Edinburgh International Festival, Theater der Welt, Festival de Marseille, Theatre de la Ville Paris, Onassis Cultural Centre Athens, Holland Festival, Luminato Festival Toronto, Vienna Festival, Santiago a Mil Chile, the Venice Biennale and in the Pacific region.

His recent works include Chosen and Beloved (2020) with MAU Wahine and NZ Symphony Orchestra, Jerusalem (2020) with MAU, House Of Night and Day (2020) exhibition at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Transfigured Night (2020), Love To Death (2020) with MAU Mapuche, Santiago Chile; KANAKA (2019) with Theatre Du Kanaky, New Caledonia; Idomeneo Ballet (2019) Salzburg Festival, Mausina (2018) with MAU Wāhine for 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, Standing In Time (2017) with MAU Wāhine; Die Gabe Der Kinder (2017) with children and community of Hamburg; Ceremony of Memories (2016 and 2017) with MAU Mapuche of Chile; Recompose (2016) with MAU Wāhine and Syrian women for Festival Herrenhausen, Hanover; Lagimoana Installation (2015) for the Venice Biennale 56th Visual Arts Exhibition; Apocalypsis, Toronto (2015); I AM: Mapuche, Chile (2015) and I AM for the 100th Anniversary of WW1 (2014), which premiered at Festival d’Avignon.

Other major international touring works include The Crimson House (2014), Stones In Her Mouth (2013), the opera Prometheus by Carl Orff (2012), Le Savali: Berlin.

Lemi Ponifasio is a High Chief of Samoa. He holds the title Sala.

The Keir Choreographic Award is a partnership between Dancehouse, The Keir Foundation and the Australia Council for the Arts, with presenting partner Carriageworks.

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