Abusy life of dance, fam­ily, waka ama

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS DANDO

When some of her 11 grand­chil­dren are loudly belt­ing out kapa haka songs in the car as she drives along, there is no place Gay­lene Sci­as­cia would rather be.

‘‘To hear them singing like that, so happy, and to be sur­rounded by such things makes me happy,’’ she said.

‘‘My life has al­ways been about peo­ple and this is the stage I’m at now.’’

The 68-year-old Whitby res­i­dent was made an Of­fi­cer of the New Zealand Or­der of Merit for ser­vices to dance in the New Year Hon­ours List.

She is con­sid­ered a vi­sion­ary and in­spi­ra­tional leader in her field, help­ing con­tem­po­rary dance to flour­ish in New Zealand in the 1970s, mix­ing it with the coun­try’s cul­tural di­ver­sity.

Sci­as­cia founded New Dance, New Zealand’s first pro­fes­sional mod­ern dance com­pany and in­sti­gated the in­au­gu­ral Na­tional Dance Congress at Ron­go­maraeroa Marae in Po­ran­ga­hau in 1976.

‘‘You should’ve seen the looks on the faces of the el­ders when th­ese dancers were jump­ing around in leo­tards and tights. It was some­thing else.’’

While she scaled the heights of the dance world when chore­ograph­ing for the Royal New Zealand Bal­let, it was help­ing start Whi­tireia’s Per­form­ing Arts pro­gramme in Porirua in 1991 that per­haps gave her the most pride.

Teach­ing at Aotea Col­lege, she rang then Whi­tireia head Turoa Royal, who said he was wait­ing for her call.

‘‘This award is re­ally just as much for him and many, many oth­ers. I’m hon­oured and hum­bled to re­ceive it on be­half of all those who made th­ese dreams come true,’’ she said.

Al­though her stew­ard­ship of Whi­tireia ended in 2011 - she was dis­ap­pointed to see the per­form­ing arts pro­gramme move to Welling­ton - Sci­as­cia hasn’t slowed down her in­volve­ment in dance, help­ing to or­gan­ise a num­ber of fes­ti­vals and events.

Th­ese days much of her en­ergy is de­voted to waka ama, which she took up in 2005.

‘‘I wish I had found it years ago. It’s so in­clu­sive, teach­ing the right at­ti­tudes and life skills to peo­ple young and old - and it con­tin­ues to grow in Porirua.’’

Be­gin­ning her danc­ing ca­reer in High­land danc­ing, tap and bal­let, her ca­reer has taken her all over the world.

She es­pe­cially loves see­ing it bring young peo­ple out of their shell.

‘‘Econ­o­mists don’t like dance be­cause they say there’s no money in it.

‘‘But it brings peo­ple to­gether, it brings hap­pi­ness, and has the power to touch peo­ple’s lives.

‘‘I wish politi­cians could dance to­gether.’’

PHOTO: KRIS DANDO

Gay­lene Sci­as­cia was made an Of­fi­cer of the NZ Or­der of Merit for ser­vices to dance.

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