Okareka Wows [by Sharu Delilkan]
Being a bit of an Okareka Dance Company junkie I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the Auckland debut of their new original piece Mana Wahine. And I realised that I was not the only one there to get their Okareka fix.
What can I say but Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete (Okareka’s artistic directors) have blown us away yet again! And the winning combination of World of Wearable Arts (WOW) artistic director and principal choreographer Malia Johnston was obviously a stroke of genius that has made this company’s Matariki offering jaw-droppingly memorable. Watching Mana Wahine was indeed a treat, comprising stunning music, lighting, imagery, set and costume that exquisitely complemented the astounding choreography and fabulous dance performances.
Never had I seen an audience so transfixed, so attentive, so mesmerised, so moved all at the same time. And the audience erupting in a spontaneous standing ovation clearly depicted that the crowd was just itching to show their delirious euphoria.
As mentioned before Vanda Karolczak’s lighting design, Elizabeth Whiting’s innovative costume design along with Tracey Collins’ elegantly minimal yet effective set design complemented by Rowan Pierce’s AV design, provided a feast for the eyes that the audience lapped up – evident by the pin drop silence during the 70-minute performance. As one of my good mates, a former member of the Royal NZ Ballet, said: “There was a time when I looked around and noticed that no one in the audience was moving. And that’s the moment that I thought ‘this is f*&^%ing awesome’.”
And that sentiment was carried through to most of the people that I bumped into at the after party. If I’m honest both my partner and I were very tempted to submit a review that said just those four words. But chickened out at the last minute.
The amazingly talented dancers on stage Bianca Hyslop, Maria Munkowits, Nancy Wijohn, Chrissy Kokiri and Jana Castillo had clearly been handpicked not just for their impeccable dance ability but, also for their experience as strong women within the dance fraternity.
Another aspect of this phenomenal production was Victoria Kelly and Tui Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield’s hauntingly poignant soundscape. It helped heighten the amazing dramatic journey even more due to its subtle nuances and variety of genres that were very cleverly woven together.
To be honest I can’t and shouldn’t elaborate more than that.
My advice: If you love dance, have never seen dance, or even possibly hate dance you really owe it to yourself to buy a ticket to this show. All involved are geniuses. This show really is incredibly awesome. ‘Nuff said. Go see the show.
Okareka Dance Company presents Mana Wahine, part of their national Matariki Under the Stars tour, plays at Q until 5th July. Details see Q