An Auckland choreographer has taken accounts of birth into the heart of his new work. Sharu Delilkan explains.
For many, the Maori cosmological New Year - Matariki - is a time to reflect and to share experiences.
For the new executive director of Atamira Dance Collective, Moss Patterson, it's an opportune time to showcase some of the company's most enjoyed dance repertoire, including one of his own, Whetu. It is an excerpt from a longer piece, Whakairo.
Established Atamira choreographers Maaka Pepene and Jack Gray will also perform and there will be popular dances by pioneering Maori dance choreographers Charles Koroneho (He Taura Whakapapa) and Stephen Bradshaw (Mauri).
Using carving as an analogy for life, Whakairo, makes a strong comment on domestic violence and examines the changing identity of contemporary Maori.
Whakairo earned Patterson an award for best choreography in the 2007 TempoAuckland Festival of Dance and the NZ Listener's best new choreographer the same year. He credits his wife, Annabel Farry, a practising midwife, with being an invaluable source of information when he was developing Whakairo.
"Talking to her about her birthing stories really helped make the whole process a lot more authentic. It was particularly helpful when I tried to construct the birthing scene at the beginning."