Aileen O'Sullivan's and Toby Mills' documentary follows Black Grace as they prepare for an appearance at premier dance festival Jacob's Pillow, in Massachusetts. The film also charts the personal journey of the dance group's founder, choreographer Neil Ieremia, from the community halls of Porirua to the global stage, powered by an unrelenting perfectionism that makes for some heated rehearsal footage. Shortly after the performances shown here, Ieremia fired the entire touring company, rebuilding his vision from scratch. Ken Sparks' editing won an NZ Screen Award.
This collection shines a spotlight on all things dance-related. On pointe are ballet gems from the 1960s, 80s and the 90s, and ballroom dancing from Dancing with the Stars and Top Dance. Hip hop busts out some moves in The Palace, led by choreography sensation Parris Goebel. Also featured are contemporary dancers Douglas Wright (who turns up in multiple titles), Black Grace, Mary Jane O'Reilly, Taiaroa Royal and Michael Parmenter. And on the not so serious front, Suzanne Paul gets funky doing the 'Blue Monkey'.
Making heavy use of Auckland Museum’s marble corridors, the sepia tone video for Grace’s 'Black Sand Shore' is pure 90s pop. Jason Ioasa leads the vocals while exploring the many corridors — although the three Ioasa brothers spend most of their time standing intensely at the entrance to the museum’s interior ‘Centennial Street’. All the while, an hourglass placed by an Ioasa and an unknown woman ominously ticks down. The single was the third off Grace's album Black Sand Shore, which was included in Nick Bollinger’s 2009 book 100 Essential New Zealand Albums.
This collection celebrates rugby in New Zealand as it has been seen onscreen: from classic bios and tour docos, to social history, dramas and protest. In the accompanying backgrounders, broadcaster Keith Quinn looks at the on air history of rugby in NZ; and playwright David Geary asks if rugby is a religion, and argues it is a good test of character.
Fresh-up in the Deep End saw sportsmen turned TV larrikins Marc Ellis and Matthew Ridge facing challenges far outside their comfort zones. This episode has the pair taking on dancing, from ballroom and latin styles, through to cabaret, contemporary and Irish. En route they try some body percussion with Black Grace Dance Company, and do the can-can under the watchful eye of cabaret legend Debbie Dorday. Then they must put their new found skills to the test in full on competition. Ridge and Ellis' skills with a rugby ball in hand don't always translate onto the dancefloor.
This episode from series five of Kete Aronui, a documentary series featuring Aotearoa's artists that screened on Māori Television, follows the careers of iconic contemporary dancers Taane Mete and Taiaroa Royal. For both, training at Te Whaea propelled them into their art, teaching them not only technique but also a way of life. Featuring footage of Royal dancing in Douglas Wright's Forever (1993), the excerpt also includes a dance class with Michael Parmenter, another dance great, and discussion of dance companies Limbs and Black Grace.
For a small country from the edge of the world, achievements on the Olympic stage are badges — silver fern-on-black — of national pride: precious moments where we gained notice (even if it was Mum’s anthem playing on the dais). This legacy collection draws on archive footage, some rarely seen, to celebrate the stories behind Kiwis going for gold.
Aileen O’Sullivan has a significant screen pedigree, from acting to directing, producing and – most importantly – storytelling. Her work ranges from Gloss and The Billy T James Show to Holiday and The Great New Zealand Showdown specials. Under her production company Seannachie Productions, O'Sullivan's has helmed a number of well received documentaries including Witi Ihimaera, Black Grace – From Cannon’s Creek to Jacob’s Pillow, Life’s a Riot and Ngaio Marsh – Crime Queen.
Douglas Lloyd Jenkins and Fiona McDonald hit the Auckland area for this leg of their Big Art Trip. They meet up with Black Grace artistic director Neil Ieremia, who is running a mentoring programme for young dancers; sculptor/painter Roger Mortimer, who is transforming bland modern day business letters into replicas of beautiful old documents; sculptor Warren Viscoe, who is busy at a wood symposium, fashion designer Kate Sylvester, at her High Street boutique; and abstract painter Judy Millar, at work in her studio.
The video for 'Cool World' melds a mood of paranoia — including flashes of recording equipment, and worried words about surveillance — with numerous images of a model in a silver halter top, dealing to a punching bag. The Samoan brothers Ioasa create a smoothly percussive sound, which echoes overseas bands like Roxy Music and The Blue Nile much more strongly than other music coming out of Aotearoa in this period (1995). The song is taken from Grace's only album Black Sand Shore, which writer Nick Bollinger later rated as one of New Zealand's 100 finest.