Porirua pro­ducer Ieremia recog­nised

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE -

Porirua’s only Queen’s Birth­day Hon­our this year went to Neil Ieremia, the founder of Black Grace dance group.

Ieremia is both shocked and proud to be named an Of­fi­cer of the New Zealand Or­der of Merit.

"I found out in the form of an email, and I thought that some­one was pulling my leg. I had to read it again to make sure,’’ he said.

Born in Can­nons Creek, Ieremia was 19 when he left a bank­ing job to pur­sue a dance ca­reer.

In 1995, he set up Black Grace with ten male dancers of Pa­cific, Maori and New Zealand her­itage, a com­pany that has toured pow­er­ful, ground-break­ing works here and around the globe to crit­i­cal ac­claim.

For its 20th an­niver­sary, Black Grace toured New Zealand from Kaitaia to Oa­maru with ‘‘20 for 20’’, per­form­ing in 20 venues for $20 tick­ets at the door, which Ieremia said was a hark back to the com­pany’s early days.

‘‘It’s been a long jour­ney get­ting to 20 years. It’s been very colour­ful, and full of highs and lows and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.’’

Last year he was one of 50 Porirua peo­ple or cou­ples to re­ceive a medal as part of the city’s 50th birth­day. The ci­ta­tion said his cre­ation of Black Grace brought ‘‘the very best of in­no­va­tive and con­tem­po­rary Pa­cific dance to lo­cal and in­ter- na­tional au­di­ences’’.

The chore­og­ra­pher was also ac­knowl­edged last year with a Cre­ative New Zealand Se­nior Pa­cific Artist Award.

While he per­formed part of a dance last year in the United States, he has hung up his danc­ing shoes. ‘‘I’m too old and sore, and I can’t re­cover fast enough.’’

In his works Ieremia draws from his Samoan and New Zealand roots to cre­ate per­for­mances, which are ex­tremely phys­i­cal, and rich in the sto­ry­telling tra­di­tions of the South Pa­cific.

Dur­ing his dance ca­reer, Ieremia has chore­ographed work for the Royal New Zealand Bal­let, the New Zealand Sym­phony Orches­tra, NZ Opera, New Zealand Wear­able Arts and the Hol­land Dance Fes­ti­val.

His re­cent work in­cludes Pass­chen­daele for the Royal New Zealand Bal­let, part of the Salute sea­son com­mem­o­rat­ing World War I.

Over the years, he has worked with about 100 dancers.

Neil Ieremia was named in the Queen’s Birth­day honours list and last year re­ceived a Porirua 50th medal.

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