Maui is a dance, music, and physical theatre work that has many elements woven together to tell the story of the Pacific legend. Each element has its own chance in the spotlight, allowing us to view the demigod in his many versions. Portrayed in this story as a normal man, how he loved, persisted, celebrated, and his heroism of fishing up the Island.
A live band sits downstage left playing smooth tones as we take our seats. Tony O’Rourke and Gibson Harris are our musicians for the night, mixing live music in with a soundtrack of cultural, modern, instrumental, and hip-hop beats, the music driving the style of movement and forcing us into the emotions of each section. This is also fuelled by the use of recorded dialogue and projections. The projector reminds us of the images we already know of Maui in a traditional, cultural way, but also depicts the hero as if he were alive today with the use of cityscapes and modern environments.
Before saying anything further about the content, I’d like to celebrate the performers. Everyone performed with conviction and energy, seamlessly jumping into different styles and energies, from contemporary, hip-hop, krump, cultural, and song. I loved that there were many body types and sizes represented. No one looked out of place and I commend the ensemble for dancing their hearts out. I felt their passion and love for what they do, and thank them for sharing it with us.
Hadleigh Pouesi and Christopher Ofanoa’s clever choreography showcased the versatilities of their dancers and talents as choreographers. Highlights included the ensemble acting as waves, a simple but effective movement that was symbolic. The “heated lava”, translated into a krump set was vibrant and energetic. An extremely powerful haka and waiata both performed with truth and gusto. And the contemporary solo from Chris Ofanoa displayed grace, strength, and connected flow. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this number. The whole show was highly entertaining and engaging, and I was left both satisfied and uplifted.
I believe there is much-needed space for productions and companies such as this one. Hadleigh is the Director of Freshmans Dance Crew and Maui, and by using both professionals, students, and crew dancers, he has created a community, bridging the gap between the elite professionals and community dance. I look forward to seeing how this company grows and excels on and beyond this platform.
We can all find similarities in these stories and ourselves, it’s a reminder that we are all Maui, we all possess the same attributes, and if we put them to use, we can also be legends standing together as proudly as Pacific Island people.