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Creative ID: 202

Art form(s): Dance.

Based in: Elderslea / Upper Hutt.

When I'm available: March to November.

Where I'm available: Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt.

My arts or creative practice (including details about my specific focus within that art form/practice and my strengths)

My mahi focuses on using movement as a vehicle to strengthen youth's ability to identify their external environments (school, home etc) and internal environments (feelings/thoughts), and how they might influence one another. Using Hip Hop elements such as ‘Cyphers’ and ‘Party Dancing’ as tools to start the conversation, we as a group start to connect what we feel to how we think to how we respond (verbal or physical). I've had 14 years of training (three professional) within a wide range of dance from Hip Hop to contemporary. But my primary strength however is my sensitivity within facilitating rangatahi in potential challenging topics. The confrontation of dancing in public can be terrifying for youth and adults. It acts as a platform for us to gently question where the discomfort may be coming from and to acknowledge that. This awareness of self starts to train the participants understanding of how their unique well-being works and how to navigate themselves within a group environment. With some real positive human engagement and support, between myself to student and from student to student, then this can, and has, developed into more conscious youth that know how to navigate themselves outside of class.

My track record of experience and success - or the track record of experience and success of the creative or artist that I will partner with

  • Graduated as a Contemporary major from the New Zealand School of Dance with a Diploma in Performing Arts. 
  • Created and toured a Hip Hop Contemporary two-man show from Wellington to San Diego.
  • Have consistent mentorship from Ramon Narayan, who has 20 years in facilitating conversation with youth in high schools and juveniles. He has been guiding me on how to become better prepared and equipped to safely hold space for conversation with youth. 
  • I have been a ‘Tu Move’ instructor for the past three years - a programme to introduce dance to Pasifika and Māori boys in high school, and show dance as a career option. A few students I taught now have gone on to train professionally and are now pursuing careers in dance. 
  • Entrusted with the Toi Rangatahi Grant from Creative New Zealand to create a fully developed two-week programme for youth. it uses movement and spoken word to concentrate on strengthening youth's ability to navigate themselves within their unique well-being.

Describe the experience you have had working with children or young people, teaching or facilitating creative processes

I created the ‘1-2’ workshop that concentrates on uplifting the participant's own unique response to music. This facilitation requires active engagement with the participants to ensure that they safely gain their own permission to move how they want, without judgement. The ‘1-2’ workshop has been successful in enabling ages in intermediates, high schools, and universities. I have taught movement with a programme to assist refugee youth fund themselves within the arts. Lead a program where five Pasifika movement specialists tour schools to give an experience on our own practice and how we’ve sustained our own unique careers. A strong aspect that makes my engagement effective, particularly with troubled youth is my relation with Hip Hop. I’m not teaching a hip hop class however, as that would exclude non-hip hop interested youth. But my background in Hip Hop elements such as rap/MCing, graffiti, breakin and how I dress, all acts as a familiar ground for a lot of Aotearoa youth. Being a young Samoan that identifies with Hip Hop, approaching youth with sensitivity helps rewrite their commercially-influenced perception on hip hop as well as a Samoan man.

Why I want to be part of the Creatives in Schools programme and how my involvement will link to my creative practice

In Aotearoa, schools are in need of more self-generating crafts in order to learn about one's own inner workings. The average schooling system prioritises and values academic achievement over personal development. Academics are important, but naturally can’t reflect and expose ourselves as much as one's own unique expression can. To create something, anything, is to actualise a part of yourself in a new way, which can then be shared. This sharing of self can create a new point of view that can offer a new understanding for another, which can develop into empathy for one another. It is this slow gaining or understanding of humanity within a regular school day that fulfils my mahi. The development of ourselves within a communal body is simply what I'm interested in. By having a group where I can reflect also enables me to actively unlearn the built-in perception of ‘achievement’ and ‘success’ that were put on me during my schooling, in order to recreate my own idea of success for myself, and move towards it. I merely just want to give a similar experience to youth. Gaining your own permission to be happy within what makes you happy.

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