Black Grace, the contemporary dance troupe from the South Pacific, is back on tour overseas – and in the United States in its first visit since 2019.
The group was invited back to the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow summer dance festival and combined the performance with a week of shows in New York.
“I’m really happy and I’m really, really proud of the company,” said Black Grace founder and choreographer Neil Ieremia.
“I couldn’t have done it without the dancers and the performers. They all bring something really exciting and they all have this mana, you know, this pride in work… It’s just a real pleasure to do this work and the organization of this tour.”
Ieremia put together the whole performance in just a few weeks.
“Someone would get sick and wasn’t there and then we had to change the schedule. And, you know, we had to wear masks and stay away from each other, which is really difficult when you’re a dance company. So it was a pretty intense and very short rehearsal period but we managed it.”
For the dancers, it has been a whirlwind of a few months after two years of confinement and restricted travel.
“It takes a bit of getting used to trying to find the groove. Trying to figure out when is the right time to eat? How long do you have before the show? What can you find on the go like Finding the groove is a bit tricky, but I think it’s all good now,” Demi-Jo Manalo said.
For others, the whole experience is a real eye-opener.
“I had a moment when we first drove up… where you could just see the skyline,” Aisea Latu said.
“And then it just hit like, ‘We’re here. We’re here.’ I’m just a random kid from New Zealand. My parents came from another country and I’m just like, ‘That’s why I’m so grateful’, which is amazing.”
Black Grace has a history of performing at sold-out shows in the United States and Europe, and the group looks forward to returning on more trips to come.
For now, it’s time to go home and get ready for the New Zealand touring season.