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Sunday, 26 November 2017 12:32 am

CubaDupa crowds dance in the rain

Feature

RAIN did not stop performers and spectators from enjoying the first day of the two-day CubaDupa festival celebratinh Wellington’s iconic Cuba Street.

The festival opened with a mass choir singing a song that was written for the festival and a parade lead by Whitireia Polytechnic kapa haka group (above). 

AcrossthetopCuba Street song’s maiden performance

A song written about Wellington’s colourful and iconic Cuba Street got its first airing today.

The song called O Tatou Wiata was sung by a mass choir at the opening of the 2 day CubaDupa festival.

O Tatou Waiata, written by Wellington man Julian Raphael was inspired  by the street’s history and special characters.

Six choirs, along with Whitireia’s Performing Arts students (right), took part in the opening.

Light rain falling at the time did not deter the performers or the crowd.

When asked what she enjoyed most about the festival a local street vendor replied: “The singing for sure.”

Bringing Maori to Cuba Dupa

The Cuba Dupa Festival kicked off this morning with a parade led by the Whitireia performing arts group.

KereamaThe Whitireia Polytechnic kapa haka group, undeterred by the rain, led a parade of six choirs up Cuba Mall to the Swan Lane carpark.

Group leader and tutor  Kereama TeUa (left) said it was an honour for him and his group of students to be a part of this event.

“Even though the kaupapa wasn’t started by Maori, I want to acknowledge those ones who had the vision and foresight to bring us on board to acknowledge not only our maunga but the tangata whenua,” TeUa said.

The parade attracted big crowds despite the weather.

Following the parade, the kapa haka group invited members of the crowd to test their skills with the poi. Men were also invited to try the haka poses.

One of the students, Indya Gibbs said the wet conditions were a challenge.

“Our outside performances are usually in tropical places, so we’re usually in Italy, France, Taiwan, we’re not usually in windy Wellington but it was a good experience.” she says.

Nuhaka Numanga (19), a second year student, said: “It means the world to me because I love doing this. I was brought up in the performing arts industry, with that kind of background so this is just like second nature.”

'The Octopus' top imageCircus comes to town

The circus has come to town for Wellington’s first ever CubaDupa festival and the first act on the Leeds Street stage was Auckland’s Blingling Bros.

Their routine consisted of jokes, music and various objects such as balls hats and plastic pins being juggled.

Mark Williams and Paul Klaassen have been performing together as the Blingling Bros for the past seven years and won the Supreme Overall Award at the 2013 New Zealand Circus Awards.

A crowd of about 70 people turned up in the rain to watch them perform, with both children and adults getting involved.

There were anxious moments when they asked children to catch them during their crowd-diving finale.

The highpoints of the show included balls being juggled into a basketball net balancing on Williams’s head and then with Klaassen standing on his partner’s shoulders, juggling six basketballs in an act they called The Octopus (right).

The rain did not appear to worry the duo who made few mistakes and wowed the crowd with their routine.

Tonight’s performances includes Whitireia Polytech’s circus act, the How to Universe Circus and the CubaDupa Circus Cabaret,  both on the Leeds Stage.

Head and shouldersPlans for CubaDupa to be annual event

Cuba Street transformed into magical playground.Wellington’s Cuba Street has been transformed into a magical interactive playground for the weekend.

Today and tomorrow, a street festival called CubaDupa will close the iconic Cuba Street to traffic and play host to a celebration of art and culture.

CubaDupa has been a few years in the making according to organiser Brianne Kerr (left).

Ms Kerr says they did not want to recreate the old Cuba Street Carnival, discontinued in 2009, but wanted to keep the excitement that came with it.

“We used European street fairs as an inspiration for CubaDupa,” she says.

Over 2000 Cuba Street locals, such as Cosmic and Mr Bun, are involved and are playing live music and are taking their shops outside to the street.

Along with the creative team who have been organising the event, about 100 volunteers are helping to make it run smoothly.

Ms Kerr is using this year’s CubaDupa as a benchmark and hopes, with Wellington City Council support  to make it an annual event.

Stores spill out onto Cuba

Despite the rainy weather the Cubadupa crowds enjoyed Cuba Street stores spilling out onto the street.

Shops made the most of the foot-traffic and advertising their goods.

Matchbox staff-member Kristine Garay was surprised at turnout and said her display – spinning the wheel to receive a free hug, lolly, glitter-bomb or $5 lucky dip – was “really popular.”

Taking shelter under their umbrellas, people were still lining up for every stall.

Ice-cream salesman Xander Dixon said that his stall was not too busy, having sold 40 gelatos in the first two hours of the festival.

The show must go on

Wet weather made set up difficult today for performers at Wellington’s newest street festival Cuba Dupa, but in true showbiz style, the show went on.

Street musician Pete O’Connell (right) struggled as he rushed to set up equipment for his Rhythm Wheel performance on a small stage in Cuba Mall.

The Rhythm Wheel is a musical invention designed by Pete who says he was inspired by the sound you hear when you put a card on bicycle spokes.

The wet weather made for an uncomfortable performing environment but Pete says: “When it comes to the weather it is what it is.”

Street Musician Struggle Across the topDespite the weather, the Rhythm wheel drew a big crowd, causing problems for pedestrians trying to walk through the mall.

And the wet weather wasn’t fazing spectators either.

Harry Crooks from Christchurch says “It sums up wellington and creates a really cool atmosphere at Cuba Dupa.”

Kieran Harrington, who also travelled to Wellington to take part in Cuba Dupa, says sun would have been better, but he enjoyed the performance anyway.

A taste of Cuba on Cuba

The music and dance of the country that shares the Cuba Street’s name was showcased on the Swan Lane stage.

CubanFusion managed to engage the crowd despite the rain with its Afro-Cuban beats.

Emily Gousmett, HeadshotRafael Ferrer (38) and wife Rosina Van Der Aa (51) are not only performers but also the founders of CubanFusion.

Mrs Van Der Aa said says that even with the poor weather, it didn’t stop anyone from joining in on the fun.

She gives most of the credit to the Cuban music that was playing. “The upbeat music helped people get into the dancing” she says.

Emily Gousmett (left)  (23) from the Hutt Valley says the loud music and the cool decorations caught her attention.

“The chandeliers look cool, the music’s fun to listen to and there’s some really good vibes going on,” she says.

Sam Uaita, HeadshotSam Uaita (right) (23) from Mt Cook says he really enjoyed the vibes the performance gave off.

“The atmosphere is great. It has a really nice sound and some groovy dancing. It has a very whimsical, light hearted, mellow vibe to it,” he says.

Renee Mason (23) from the Hutt Valley says the music is what made her come watch the performance.

“I really liked the beat of the music. There’s a good atmosphere around here,” she says.

Newswire Team: Aidan Jones, Araina Khonthothong, Colin Engelbrecht, Arana Kenny, Emma Moody, Jade Mazey, Te Huia Moke and James Lobban.

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