Haka: Embodied dance language of Aotearoa

Haka: Embodied dance language of Aotearoa

Organized by Dr. Tria Blu Wakpa and co-sponsored by UCLA's American Indian Studies Center and Department of World Arts & Cultures/Dance

In this workshop, renowned Māori contemporary dance artist and artistic director of Atamira Dance Company in Aotearoa, shares cultural protocols and stories that present a dimension known as Te Ao Māori, the cosmological Māori world view. A way in which origin stories have passed down over time, generation to generation and expressed through the body. Haka, meaning simply 'to dance', is known globally as a 'war dance' performed by the All Blacks, the famous national rugby team. The fierce gestures unpacked in this workshop reveal other realms of connectivity and instinct that brings forth the realm of ihi, wehi and wana. The workshop will share embodied practices for the participants to try, explore some language learning and look at traditional and contemporary intersections today.


Jack Gray has iwi (tribal) affiliations to Ngāti Porou, Ngapuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Kahungunu of Aotearoa. He is a contemporary dancer, choreographer, teacher, facilitator, and writer. A founding member and current Artistic Director of Atamira Dance Company, the leading creator and presenter of Māori contemporary dance. Jack has an extensive background focussed on international, interdisciplinary, and intercultural projects, including Berkeley Dance Project, Cultural Informance Lab, Transformance Lab, I Moving Lab, Indigenous Dance Forum, and more. With an independent arts practice spanning two decades, Jack's travels (pre-Covid) took him all over the world to engage with Indigenous audiences & community-centered spaces of learning, being, and activation. In the U.S, Jack was guest choreographer at UC Berkeley, Visiting Assistant Professor at UC Riverside, Regents Lecturer at UC Los Angeles, Visiting scholar, and Spring Artist in Residence at Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University. As an ongoing research space, Jack creatively explores and devises restorative approaches towards helping communities restore living cultural relationships to the Earth and Sky. Another platform is Movement for Joy, a class that is inclusive to all, which looks at joy and authentic embodiment as a means to dynamically connect more productively with the self and others.

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