Atamira Dance Company Leads the Way in Māori Contemporary Dance With TOMO

Atamira Dance Company presents TOMO – a tale of wairua told through dance, light and architecture.

Atamira Dance Company continue to cement their global status as the leading producer of Māori contemporary dance. The next work in their dynamic programme is a brand new work by talented choreographer Gabrielle Thomas – TOMO, playing October 9 -10 at Q Theatre as part of the Tempo Dance Festival.

With shifting architecture TOMO interprets the proverbial heart of three wāhine travelling through Te Ao Kikokiko (the land of the living). A battle between self and the source begins when one lost and lonely wairua enters their world.

TOMO is the first full-length work by choreographer Gabrielle Thomas (Kai Tahu,Te Atiawa te Tau Ihu)who has gathered an exceptional ensemble of seasoned and fresh dancers including Bianca Hyslop, Sean MacDonald, Abbie Rogers and Jahra Wasasala to bring this work to life. Experienced collaborators Peter Hobbs (music) and Vanda Karolczak (design) work with Thomas to deliver a work that dives between the boundaries of light (Tama Nui Te Ra) and darkness (Te Marama) to evoke a hauntingly spellbinding experience.

The work is developed from wānanga held in Mangawhai where Thomas lives, as well as rehearsals at their home base in Auckland, where a focus on Te Reo Māori and traditional recitation practices will be embedded into the choreographic process.

“This idea has been brewing in many forms for many years and I’m thrilled that it’s finally finding the light. TOMO explores concepts my mother shared with me while growing up that I never got to discuss with her as a Māori woman. It’s a heartfelt piece and I’m looking forward to seeing the talented team of creatives bring it to life come performance season” says Gabrielle Thomas, Choreographer.

Atamira are having an exceptional year. They have already toured to six national centres with critically acclaimed work Onepū by founding member Louise Potiki Bryant (Kāi Tahu, Waitaha, Kāti Mamoe) who is also the first Māori woman dance artist recipient at the recent Arts Foundation Laureate Awards 2019. In the recent Creative New Zealand funding round they received an excellent result with their funding increased by 69% -one of the most successful recipients in the hotly contested round. This show of support from Creative New Zealand has given the company the capability to increase their programme and continue to be a driving force in both the dance and Māori arts scene both in Aotearoa and abroad. It’s a big deal.

 “I am thrilled to witness Atamira’s epic journey since early inception till now. Over two decades we have fostered many amazing Māori choreographers, like Louise and  Gaby, who continue to illuminate the world with their incredible visionary approaches. It is an honour as New Zealand’s leading Māori contemporary dance company to see Indigenous creativity becoming more widely celebrated!” says Jack Gray, Artistic Director.

“We are grateful for the increased support from CNZ which reiterates their confidence in our collective vision that has come from the hard work and resilience of the company over the past 20 years. With this comes increased responsibility to develop, maintain and present work nationally and internationally, supporting  our artists and art from to the highest level possible. An exciting challenge! says Marama Lloydd Executive Director.

TOMO is the next step in their incredible years journey which will boast the exceptional artistry, storytelling and spirit that runs through all of their work. As the company move towards their landmark 20st year they are committed to continuing to programme works like TOMO which offer audiences excellence in a contemporary dance experience and develop new, fresh talents and works to enrich the NZ dance landscape.