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Saturday, 20 April 2019 04:09 pm

Black Grace Dance is students’ amazing grace

Neil Ieremia the founder of Black Grace Dance Company leads Te Auaha students in workshop. Images: Nicholas Hendricks


Black Grace Dance Company has been collaborating with Te Auaha to inspire Maori and Pacific dance students through workshops.

Neil Ieremia, the Porirua-born founder of one of New Zealand’s leading contemporary dance companies, says it is important for them to connect and feed into training institutes.

Te Auaha New Zealand Institute of Creativity students will learn what to expect when they are out in the big world.

“We hope to share some of that experience, but I am also interested to see what they are doing here as practitioners,” he says.

He is always looking for people to join his team.

“Male, female anyone. Anyone up for a bit of a run,” he says.


“Black Grace is a physical place, it’s also a very deep thinking place and that doesn’t always sit well with people. I think there is a perception out there that dancers are stupid.

“The young people coming out of here [Whitireia] particularly the males that we have taken on, are generally really physically fit and able bodies, great performers and that has always been a great asset to the company.”

The company is getting Pasifika artists to collaborate with them to devise a new piece called ‘Guerrilla’ for a festival in Auckland at the end of the year.

“It is run over three days and it is going to be completely free,” he says.

While touring the United States they provide outreach programs in the communities.

“We work in some of the more poorer and challenged communities and that is always a great idea. So if you can do it over there, my rationale is that you can do it over here,” he says.

“I grew up in Cannons Creek not far from here, and that neighbourhood wasn’t particularly friendly when I was a kid and to some degree it is still the same.”

However he believers performing arts can make a difference.

“I think art is for everyone. Art has a real ability to tell stories and to change some views and to make people aware of things they perhaps weren’t aware of before.”


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