Dancers celebrating Kiwi life and culture

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HOMEGROWN: Wakatu Dance Theatre dancers, from left, Abigail Goodison, 17, Lizzie Neale, 7, Hannah Malpas, 13, and Meren Puklowski, 7, rehearse for Kiwiana.

Themes relevant to New Zealand culture and history are the inspiration for a performance which opens at the Theatre Royal on May 19.

Whakatu Dance Theatre is presenting Kiwiana – a show which involves 160 dancers creating a visually spectacular show full of colour and energy, says dance theatre principal Peta Spooner.

The dances that feature in Kiwiana have been choreographed by the group’s various teachers and reflect various aspects of New Zealand culture.

“We wanted to do something that makes us laugh about New Zealanders,” Spooner says.

Each section of the performance has a theme – including Edmonds cookbook housewives, No8 wire, Buzzy Bees, Keep New Zealand Beautiful and remembrance.

The soundtrack will feature predominantly New Zealand musicians, including the Mutton Birds, Richard Nunns, Opensouls, the Woolshed Sessions, OMC and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Spooner says the show is about showcasing each student.

“We don’t do the soloist run. It’s an amateur studio for recreation and training, so it’s important to showcase everybody.

“This is about a point of time in their lives that’s a pleasure and enjoyable and something they don’t forget.”

She says getting all the dancers organised has been a bit of a mission this year, as many of the students wanted to be involved with other productions which have been held over the past few weeks.

“Because of the pressure of other shows for kids, we only had two weeks to pull the whole thing together – it’s been a bit stressful.”

Nine students are coming to Nelson from Levin’s Taitoko Dance Theatre with their teacher to be part of the performance.

The two dance theatres have a good relationship, with Nelson students having performed with the Levin dancers up north for several years in a row while the Theatre Royal was closed.

Spooner says a range of dance styles will be featured during the show, which will be a visual feast.

“You have to make it entertaining with lots of colour – it will be visually spectacular.”


  • Whakatu Dance Theatre presents Kiwiana at the Theatre Royal tomorrow, Friday and Saturday nights at 7pm. A matinee is being staged on Saturday at 1.30pm. Tickets are $17 and can be purchased at Everyman, Hardy St, Nelson.

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