Dancers sway on to stage

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By CATHER­INE HEALY

How does a Rus­sian girl end up per­form­ing in a Cook Is­land dance group?

Dasha Tarasova grew up in Raro­tonga, where her par­ents have sev­eral busi­nesses, be­fore mov­ing to Auck­land to com­plete her sec­ondary school­ing at St Cuth­bert’s Col­lege.

She wanted to cre­ate a small, con­tem­po­rary dance group in­spired by the ex­u­ber­ant Cook Is­land dance style, but not lim­ited by the bound­aries of tra­di­tion.

Three years ago cre­ated Ariki Vaine.

The group in­cludes young women aged be­tween 21 and 30 with Fi­jian, Samoan and Tahi­tian con­nec­tions.

Some were born in the Pa­cific, some in Auck­land, and their per­for­mances re­flect all of th­ese cul­tures.

‘‘A lot of us have been danc­ing since we were really young. It’s our pas­sion and it makes us feel closer to home.

‘‘We rep­re­sent the new gen­er­a­tion of Pa­cific Is­land kids who have grown up in Auck­land.’’

The group is of­ten booked for cor­po­rate events, wed­dings and birthdays.

While many of the songs they dance to will be well known to Pa­cific Is­land au­di­ences, they have also been known to throw in some­thing by a pop artist like Bey­once to mix things up.

The name Ariki Vaine refers to a strong fe­male leader and the group of eight are all strong characters.

They all have their de­grees, some are masters grad­u­ates, some have chil­dren and some work full­time.

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Through their weekly re­hearsals at Tapac in West­ern Springs and the hours they spend to­gether cre­at­ing their cos­tumes, the women have be­come good friends.

‘‘We all learn from each other, we all have dif­fer­ent styles . . . we en­joy learn­ing each oth­ers’ cul­ture too,’’ she says.

And it has also be­come a thriv­ing busi­ness ven­ture.

‘‘We’ve had to learn how to mar­ket our­selves, how to deal with in­voices . . . th­ese are all good skills to learn,’’ Miss Tarasova, 26, says.

A re­cent high­light was be­ing in­vited to per­form at the Rugby World Cup.

‘‘We were danc­ing in the street out­side Eden Park.

‘‘It was quite dif­fer­ent to per­form­ing on a stage, it was a really good buzz.

‘‘At the fi­nal we per­formed just out­side the gate of Eden Park, on top of a [ship­ping] con­tainer.

‘‘It was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

Ariki Vaine will per­form at Coca-Cola Christ­mas in the Park this Satur­day. The free con­cert in Auck­land Do­main starts at 7.30pm.

Pro­ceeds from col­lec­tions taken up dur­ing the evening will go to Surf Life Sav­ing New Zealand.

Sub­ur­ban News­pa­pers, pub­lisher of the Auck­land City Har­bour News, and part of the Fairfax me­dia Mighty A Net­work, is the ma­jor print me­dia spon­sor.

Dance spec­tac­u­lar: Mem­bers of Ariki Vaine dance group are look­ing for­ward to per­form­ing at Coca-Cola Christ­mas in the Park on Satur­day. From left: Liz Wolf­gramm, Dasha Tarasova, Filoi Vailaau, Frieda Paul-Haiu, Ash­ley Hunt Fi­dow, Teuila Hughes, Alexan­dria AhChong and Zaa­heda Ahmed.

Wanted: Po­lice have a war­rant to ar­rest Jerry Hepi for breach­ing his re­lease con­di­tions. Hepi is Maori, 1.75 me­tres tall and medium build.

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