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.
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'.
Future film producer Fiona Copland (The Price of Milk) is the reporter for this September 1984 piece on the New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington. Flashdance (1983) is in the air and Lionel Ritchie hit 'Running with the Night' is the soundtrack, as the wannabes aim to impress the likes of Limbs director Mary Jane O'Reilly. The students include Taiaroa Royal and Fenella Bathfield. Bathfield would shortly find local fame as host of after school programmes 3:45 LIVE! and The Bugs Bunny Show. The report screened on long-running arts programme Kaleidoscope.
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.
In 1989 dancer Douglas Wright returned home to choreograph and form his own company. This half-hour TV documentary, marking the launch of his work Gloria, looks back on a blossoming career that began at 21 — when he took up ballet to overcome a heroin addiction. After becoming a star with Limbs, Wright joined prestigious troupes in London and New York. Now, as opening night looms, he is acutely aware of the danger of pushing his dancers too hard as he fights to get the best out of them on an ambitious, demanding piece. Douglas passed away in November 2018.
This impressionistic 1989 short film, directed by Mark Summerville, imagines gay tribal life on a fantasy South Pacific Island. Shot by Mairi Gunn, the film ripples with watery blues; a stormy Maggie Rankin soundtrack and whispered narration (from Ivan Davis) backgrounds images of marine sirens, coral crowns, apples, tapa, and entwined seaweed. In the middle of it all — a game of underwater hockey... The short film crossed the seas to gay film festivals in San Francisco, Vancouver and Hamburg, and toured with a British Film Institute selection of shorts.
In this film, late choreographer Douglas Wright's work Gloria is captured on camera by Alun Bollinger, in a rare directorial effort from the legendary Kiwi cinematographer. Antonio Vivaldi's Gloria RV589, a hymn praising the birth of Christ, plays behind a yellow and black flurry of limbs and gestures. The journey from gymnastic leaps to rest, marks the cycle of life. The work was shot soon after Wright returned from his dance OE and formed the Douglas Wright Dance Company. The screening attracted attention from morals groups worried about nudity on television.
The light-hearted but star-heavy I'll Make You Happy unapologetically showcases a group of Auckland prostitutes, united by girl power — and a general distaste for their pimp (Michael Hurst). Jodie Rimmer dons many wigs and personas as Siggy, the spunky young sex worker who fends off Hurst's pleading advances, while pulling a nerdy banker (Ian Hughes) into her plans for a game-changing heist. The eclectic soundtrack is heavy on electronica, while the cast includes Rena Owen, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, dancer Taiaroa Royal, and a one-minute cameo by Lucy Lawless.
Takatāpui was the world's first indigenous gay, lesbian and transgender series. This 2005 Takatāpui Gay Xmas Special was hosted by the show's presenters Taane Mete, Tania Simon and Ramon Te Wake. It included guest performances from transgender MP Georgina Beyer, dancer Taiaroa Royal, designer and singer Linda E, the late Māori diva Mahinaarangi Tocker, Dee Za Star and many more. The show was produced by Front of the Box Productions for Māori Television.
This award-winning National Film Unit production soars on thermals with the world's largest seabird, the toroa or royal albatross. Director Grant Foster captures the majesty of the flyer with a three metre-plus wingspan (“as wide as two volkswagen cars parked side by side”); laments historic slaughter; celebrates conservation efforts (hat tipping legendary toroa custodian Dr Lance Richdale); and surveys the albatross's life cycle at its only mainland breeding colony on Otago Peninsula, from courtship and nesting to taking off on an epic oceanic OE.