Te Wheke is a powerful new full-length dance work from Atamira Dance Company, the inspirational collective that this year commemorates their 21st year as the leading creator and presenter of Māori contemporary dance. Eight dancers and eight practitioners both tuakana and teina, explore the dimensions of human experience symbolsied by the eight tentacles of the mighty Te Wheke, in this explosive new contemporary dance work showing for two nights only at the ASB Waterfront Theatre on June 11 & 12.

Te Wheke refers to the Octopus, our guardian on this long journey from past into future, activating healing now in this time we all share. Solo and ensemble expressions of darkness and light occur within shape shifting worlds of floating black silk. Layers of symbolism emanate through magical AV patterning and mesmeric soundscapes with lighting enhancing all - both revealing and hiding.

“Twenty one years ago, when Atamira Dance Collective was founded there was no Māori TV or radio,” says founding member and Artistic Director, Jack Gray. “As young urban Māori we wanted to see ourselves. Dance has always been the platform by which we can transpose timeframes and look at things from our tīpuna. Young Māori in 2021 feel empowered and global. So with this work we embody the symbolic bones of the past as we gesture towards future potential.”

Te Wheke is a powerful tohu for many Oceanic peoples, appearing in different mythologies. This guardian of the seas has many strengths and abilities. “When the name ‘Te Wheke came to us we discovered the late Rangimarie Rose Pere’s model of hauora which aligned a Mātauranga Maori dimension of health and wellbeing to each of the eight tentacles. We chose to honour her model in our choreographic structure”, says Executive Director Marama Lloydd

Some of Aotearoa’s leading names in dance are involved in this milestone production, including Sean MacDonald, Taane Mete, Kelly Nash, Jack Gray, Dolina Wehipeihana, Gabrielle Thomas, Kura Te Ua, Bianca Hyslop and Louise Potiki Bryant, who foster the performance of some exceptional experienced and emerging talents. Te Whānau Atamira have come out in force to mark this momentous occasion and to honour the legacy of this incredible company’s colossal contribution to Māori contemporary dance.


Titiro ki muri, haere whakamua

Look back, move forward

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Last updated: 03 May 2021