New Zealand's leading contemporary dance company Black Grace will make its McCarter Theatre debut on Tuesday, February 23 at 8:00 pm. For over 15 years this all-male dance troupe has fused Pacific traditional cultures with contemporary dance onstage, performing to music ranging from Samoan indigenous music to Bach and hip-hop. Named after a New Zealand expression that translates to "daring and brave," Black Grace continues to unfold founder and director Neil Ieremia's dynamic, bold vision, blending athleticism with innovation onstage.
The company's McCarter Theatre program will include the signature work Minoi, showcasing Samoan slap dancing and singing; Surface, which traces the masculine traditions of the Samoan culture; and a new work entitled Gathering Chords. Throughout 2010, Black Grace will be performing in the United States, including performances in Hawaii; Austin, Texas; and Philadelphia. The company has also been invited to perform at the Cultural Olympiad in Vancouver, Canada, in March.
One of New Zealand's national treasures, Black Grace has toured extensively throughout New Zealand and internationally to perform with critical acclaim. The company made its U.S. debut in August 2004 at the prestigious Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in the Berkshires of Massachusetts where, by the end of their weeklong engagement, they were "playing to vociferously enthusiastic, [to] sold-out houses" (New York Times). In 2005, the company celebrated its 10th anniversary and performed to sell-out seasons in Auckland, New Zealand, followed by an extensive tour of the United States and Mexico. Most recently the company toured to Zug, Switzerland, followed by performances to thousands throughout Germany in 2009. A documentary on the group, Black Grace: From Cannon's Creek to Jacob's Pillow, premiered in June 2007 on PBS.
At the forefront of New Zealand's most accomplished choreographers, Black Grace Founder and Artistic Director Neil Ieremia imbues Black Grace with an explosive mix of rhythm, spirit and energy. Following his graduation from the Auckland Performing Arts School in New Zealand, Ieremia joined the acclaimed Douglas Wright Dance Company. He founded Black Grace in 1995, and has since choreographed all of the company's major full-length works and created the concepts behind "New Works," "Black Grace & Friends" and "UrbanYOUTHMovement," a program for young adults. Ieremia has also choreographed work for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Opera New Zealand. In 2003, he was nominated for the prestigious international Rolex Mentor Programme, and received the 2005 Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award for outstanding creative achievement and his contribution to the arts. In 2009, he received the Paul D. Fleck Fellowship in the Arts from The Banff Centre, Canada.
Tickets, starting at $39 ($12 for students), are available and can be purchased by calling (609) 258-2787, online at http://www.mccarter.org, or at the McCarter Theatre ticket office at 91 University Place, Princeton.