11 Jul 2019

Matariki for Tamariki: dancing for the stars

From Nine To Noon, 9:40 am on 11 July 2019

This school holidays, the NZ Dance Company is traveling around Auckland to bring young dancers onto the floor with them in the premiere season of Matariki for Tamariki.

Matariki for Tamariki

Matariki for Tamariki Photo: John McDermott

The Matariki for Tamariki production takes high school students from winter dance schools and gives them an opportunity to spend a week dancing in the shoes of a professional dancer.

The resulting shows are on over the next fortnight and are based on the stories of the nine stars of the Matariki constellation. 

Lilly Raukawa is a sixteen year old dancer who's in the programme. She started dancing when she was about 2 years old, jumping around in front of the TV.

“I wasn’t born into the richest family so I’ve just actually recently started dancing for high school. But I wouldn’t consider myself a starter or a newbie.”

Raukawa’s teacher asked her if she wanted to do the winter programme this holiday period.

“It was a spontaneous jump into something that was just great.”

She’s learning new ways to move and meeting new people – a great experience, she says. 

“It’s definitely made me think [about] what I want to do, who I want to become, it’s very, very much inspiring, especially with Matariki being the topic.”

Working with the professional dancers, the young people learn dance through repetition. Themes running throughout the show represent the meanings of the different stars, Raukawa says.

Contemporary dance is very collaborative, constantly being fed by new concepts in design, music, art and installation, says Katie Rudd, an award-winning professional dancer who has danced with the NZ Dance Company for six years.

“It’s a challenging lifestyle in some aspects; you have to put your body on the line and you have to adjust your lifestyle to your performance schedule and maintaining the ability to perform at your best at all times however it’s so rewarding.”

Matariki for Tamariki choreographer Shaun MacDonald worked with the dancers for six weeks, creating the core of the work, before the dancers themselves worked with youth to create a smaller structure which will be performed at the beginning of the show.

“I’m so excited,” Raukawa says.