Encounter 18

Tanemahuta Gray


Tāne Mahuta is the name of a gigantic kauri tree over 2,000 years old and one of the largest trees now alive on the planet. With a trunk of some 4 meters in diameter and a towering height of around 50 meters, this tree is at home in the Waipoua Forest in North Auckland, Aotearoa / New Zealand. Its very fitting name comes from the Māori and refers to Tāne Mahuta, the god of forests.

Tanemahuta is also the first name of the New Zealand choreographer, producer and art director Tanemahuta Gray from Wellington. On 13 March 2012 he made his own encounter with OUBEYs painting “Morphogenesis”. And even though he didn’t know what the painting was called, the thoughts and associations that came into his mind while viewing the picture were astonishingly close to the mark.

Tanemahuta Gray graduated from the New Zealand School of Dance in 1994 and in 1999 was one of only 14 dancers from a group of 1,800 young hopefuls to be accepted by the celebrated De La Guarda Company in London with whom he later toured the world. (Vimeo to see him performing in this world reknown production). He is not only a trained dancer but also an instructor in the art of kapa haka and taiaha the traditional Maori war dance and martial art forms. His rich bicultural identity informs his splendidly idiosyncratic choreography which includes such productions as Te Ao Hurihuri – The Changing World and the resoundingly successful two hour Maui – One Man against the Gods, (You can see a short excerpt from the production on Vimeo): Vimeo Tanemahuta also directed and co-choreographed Oceania’s greatly acclaimed contribution to the opening of the World Exhibition in Shanghai, with his work performing alongside world renown artists Andrea Bocelli, Quincey Jones, Tan Dun, Lang Lang and Jackie Chan which can be seen onYouTube (starts at 5mins 45secs)

Ever since his Encounter with OUBEY in 2012 Tanemahuta has been a faithful friend of the MINDKISS Project. It was he who was largely instrumental in bringing the fourth stopover of the OUBEY Global Encounter Tour to Te Kura Kaupapa Māori O Ngā Mokopuna, a Māori school in Seatoun/Wellington. That this was all possible is more than extraordinary and a great honor for both OUBEY and the MINDKISS Project.

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