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Matariki for Tamariki (Auckland, New Zealand)


22 Jun 2019 - 18 Dec 2020

Short Synopsis

The New Zealand Dance Company commissions Māori dancer/choreographer Sean MacDonald (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Raukawa) to create a “whole whānau “ work for youth, families and “kidadults” especially for the 2019 Matariki season. 

Sean brings to life a world where a band of movers travel through forests, mountains, beaches and valleys— the beautiful New Zealand landscape. Sean created a short work titled Kaleidoscope for NZDC while participating in our Kanikani Hou Kanoura/ Emerging/Mid-Level Choreographers programme in 2018. This occurred around the time of Matariki and led him to contemplate the work’s relationship with voyage, nature and the cosmos. 

Sean will expand on his initial ideas while pairing it to what Matariki means to him and a younger generation as they embark on their own life journey. The 45 – 60-minute work will immerse audiences into Matariki –the beginning/ending of cycles. It represent planting a new seed and letting it grow. A custom of digging a hole, standing in it, covering your feet with dirt and watering is a symbolic way to mark the beginning of Matariki. Maramataka, the Maori “calendar”, is based on lunar cycles in tune with this land/seasons. Our tupuna navigated by way of the stars and celestial pathways. The nine Matariki stars each had their own history/personality. Over the yearly cycle, a giant waka travels, casting its net to gather all the spirits of those that have passed to take them on their final journey—traversing the celestial pathways, diving back into Papatuanuku, and finally releasing into the heavens.

 Sean seeks to develop a “360 work”-  integrating visual elements of prop and set design as well as musical elements reflective of the communities and audiences that the work will be performed. With music by Douglas Lilburn and JS Bach the work has a rich visual and aural world of the sea, the wind and a journey of imagination.

There can be a participatory angle to the work, where children can create their own Matariki mask or star to incorporate into the work.

Matariki signals the Māori New Year and is a time of renewal & celebration in New Zealand— a perfect opportunity to share the celebrations of our tangata whenua through a programme that reaches diverse audiences. 

Created on NZDC’s professional dancers including Māori dancers Chrissy Kokiri (Te Arawa), Taniora Motutere (Te Rarawa, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Tuwharetoa), Filipino dancer Carl Tolentino, Samoan dancer Raisedinland Iose & Pakeha dancers Katie Rudd & Bree Timms.  

The work is designed to be able to be performed in any setting - with or without lighting.

Technical requirements are just a minimum 6 x 6 metre space and a sound system, and a safe floor for dance.

The work will be tour ready from July 2019.

Sean MacDonald
Availability Status
Still in pre-production

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