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Black Grace: Paradise Rumour

This moving piece of choreography explores the emotions and hurt of the Pacific community over various periods of time.
By Emma Clark-Dow
January 22, 2024
By Emma Clark-Dow
January 22, 2024

After a successful premiere in May 2023, Black Grace dance company will be taking their thought-provoking performance Paradise Rumour on tour, bringing the show to Christchurch on Saturday, March 17 and Wellington on Friday, March 22.

Black Grace founder and one of New Zealand's best creative minds, Neil Ieremia, created Paradise Rumour as the next step of the story he told with his 2009 work, Gathering Clouds. This piece reflected the pain caused by an academic paper that implied Pacific peoples' migration to New Zealand had had a negative impact on Aotearoa's economy.

"[The paper's] controversial claims caused significant hurt within the Pacific Island community in Aotearoa, while emboldening those with more xenophobic views," Ieremia said. The paper spurred a Human Rights Commission investigation, which found the paper was "poorly researched and prejudiced".

Paradise Rumour explores both the hurt in the Pacific community then, now and before — going right back to when Pacific missionaries first made the journey to Aotearoa.

The significant emotions felt throughout these time periods are performed by four of six different dancers in the piece, from hope and resistance, to sorrow and acceptance, control and release and finally faith and crisis. Ultimately, Ieremia is asking: "How far have we really come since then?"

It's a significant piece worthy of consideration and reflection.

Images: Duncan Cole / Toaki Okano.

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