Hou is an annual strand for choreographic and artistic development. This is a supported process of investigation and refinement for choreographic experimentation and development of methodologies and concepts. Choreographers utilise foundations of cultural practice to develop ideas that are enmeshed with their whakapapa (past, present and future lineages and convergences), as well as embarking on their own unique pathway.
Atamira Reimagined / Te Wheke
Dancers: Sean MacDonald, Kasina Campbell, Eddie Elliott, Bianca Hyslop, Matiu Hamuera, Brydie Colquhoun, Jeremy Beck, Abbie Rogers, Cory-toalei Roycroft
Creative team: Jack Gray, Louise Potiki Bryant, Maaka Pepene, Gabrielle Thomas
Hou (2020) was an 8 week project about Atamira and it’s 20 year cycle of creativity. The dancers started with Tuhono online, a professional development project during the April 2020 lockdown which connected the dancers closer to the whakapapa and history of Atamira. This 6 week project connected the company on new levels and prepared them to be back in the studio for Hou.
"Now that we’re together we really make the most of every moment. I feel like that courage and that bravery and that vulnerability, that’s something we know of each other. So that just becomes a strength." - Jack Gray
“Great being back in the studio...challenging...scary...but once that first day was out of the way it just became natural.” - Maaka Pepene
“I feel very energised by the kaupapa.” - Gabrielle Thomas
"I’m just one of several people working with the dancers. It’s freeing in a way because you're not carrying the whole thing on your own and then you can start to see connections between what other choreographers are doing and what i’m doing, and the dancers see that too. So there are some nice connections happening organically.” - Louse Potiki Bryant
Dancers: Bianca Hyslop, Brydie Colquhoun, Tupua Tigafua
Hou (2019) gave Sean MacDonald the opportunity to step into the choreographic space within Atamira and explore ideas leading to his full length work Ngā Wai which premiered in November 2020.
“Originally I was looking for strong characters in history, real or myth. Then I came upon stories from Waimarama where I'm from.”
“I draw on their (dancers) own experiences, getting them to do movement of their own memories, of their own whakapapa, so they’re infusing themselves into it all the time.”
“It’s about bringing all those stories together in one cohesive something, some sort of narrative.”
“I think coming into this, into this role, was quite easy, very easy. Just because of the nature of the company. They were just so supportive, there and open. Just being in the studio with them and it happening...I really enjoyed that.”
Choreographed by Bianca Hyslop
Dancers: Kelly Nash, Daniel Cooper
Hou (2018) allowed choreographer Bianca Hyslop to explore ideas within her own whakapapa and whānau while connecting two important elements together, dance and design.
“I guess the piece is about nostalgia and memory and connection. To land and disconnection and loss.”
“Another starting point I had was that I knew right from conception I wanted to work with design. So I worked with Rowan Pierce on developing a set piece as well as travelling down to Rotorua to collect sound bites and we did that process before any of the movement was even created. That’s been a really important journey I think, something I want to continue building. This idea of working from design and working so that the dance and the design are a working cohesion and grow together.”
“Atamira works in that way where you get to develop an idea and over time it gets to grow and develop into a bigger, larger work.”
Behind the Canvas
Choreographed by Eddie Elliott
Dancers: Aloalii Tapu, Taniora Motutere, Elijah Kennar, Bianca Hyslop, Atalya Loveridge, Keana Ngaata, Sophie Greig
Hou (2018) gave choreographer Eddie Elliott the space to investigate and develop his own whakaaro within Atamira along with his dancers.
“Eventually it comes to you being you and not you having to be the choreographer. It’s you having to be yourself and being comfortable in the environment to then share ideas.”
“I get really excited when there’s an idea and I can stay on the idea for some time. To drive that idea and see where it ends up and see where the dancers take it.”
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