Friday, April 25, 2008


The Origins festival bubbles on - and I'm now pretty close to getting a programme together. Funding the programme is another matter, of course.... but it's looking promising. The last few days have been about the First Nations work coming out of Aotearoa (or New Zealand, as it's commonly known!). I spent much of Wednesday with Ian Conrich at the Centre for New Zealand Studies at Birkbeck. Ian knows a terrifying amount about New Zealand film, and has suggestions for our film programme. I need to find a time to sit down and watch them. It's made easier by the fact that his Centre has every NZ film ever made but two in its archive.

It was also Ian who introduced me to Ariana Tikao; a Maori musician who was in London for a few days. We had lunch together. Ariana showed me the visuals for her new album Tuia, created by Louise Potiki Bryant. Louise also happens to be one of the key figures in the Atamira Dance Collective, a pile of whose DVDs had just landed on my desk. It's fascinating work - not so much dance as a meld of movement theatre, text, projected visuals and Maori ritual. The overall effect is the creation of a new form - a contemporary spiritual theatre which allows the indigenous traditions to speak in our time.

It reminds me of Lemi Ponifasio's wonderful Requiem, which Peter commissioned for New Crowned Hope. It's also like the work of The Conch, which I saw last night at the Barbican. This piece, called Vula, placed Pacific Island women (and one Maori) in a huge pool of water, which became a space for the celebration of the feminine in those cultures. It was, again, a very beautiful piece of ritual theatre. There's clearly a movement coming out of Aotearoa: a movement which is partly about recognising indigenous cultures, but which is also about that key thing - the way indigenous cultures can give us a route back to the spiritual theatre.

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