Taupou

This outdoor public performance piece investigates the symbolism and beauty standards within the role of the taupou. The taupou is the ceremonial hostess selected by the village chief to elevate the formal reception of visitors to a village or place.

“As a Sāmoan performer I’d love to share my uniqueness of my own kaupapa and my disability. Showing the real me, being in a chair performing with style, in my way.” – Lusi Faiva

By inviting Lusi to claim this role she will help redefine for future generations what graceful movement looks like and what type of bodies are able to hold space within the taualuga.

Within the costume design Rose Kirkup will construct Lusi’s garments and is interested in how we create the adornments around the ‘ie toga that also represent Lusi’s journey with a disability. Looking at how materials that have been significant in her life could be integrated into the garment. She’s keen to look at hospital medical waste in a way to acknowledge how often people with lived experience of disability feel ignored or thrown away. By using these materials in a way that uplifts these often negative experiences, and transforming objects that might only be recognizable to people who navigate the medical world. In an attempt to rewrite this narrative of rejection, isolation, and fear.

This work will create an opportunity for a piece that pushes accessibility and visibility not only within the context of Samoan groups, but how public festivals support people who face additional barriers to participation. It ensures there are voices at the table for multiple conversations and representation to ensure accessible events.

Lusi Faiva, (Patamea, Savai’i), is a founding member of New Zealand’s integrated dance company Touch Compass. Since 1997 she has helped pioneer contact improvisation within New Zealand, touring regionally within New Zealand and Australia. One of the company’s most notable works Lusi’s Eden was developed around her personal story and her subsequent short film Mrs and Mrs Jones tells the story of her adoptive palagi parents who taught her to read and write. Born with cerebral palsy at a time when the state thought they knew what was best to support her growth, this resulted her being placed into an institution and the disconnection of her ‘aiga. Lusi was honoured with a highly commended citation at the 2019 Arts Access Awards.

Tupe Lualua (Sāvaia, Lefaga, Luatuanu’u) is a practitioner of Pacific dance and theatre working across choreography, producing, performing and as an educator. Tupe founded Le Moana dance company in 2012, as a vessel for the exchange of stories, concepts and ideas through the mediums of Pacific Heritage and Contemporary dance. They have annually hosted the Measina Festival in Wellington and Porirua since 2014.

Led by Tupe, Le Moana have presented works nationally and internationally, including, Fatu Na Totō (Pick of the NZ Fringe), Purple Onion (Kia Mau Festival), Aumaga (Pacific Dance Festival) & 1918 (Critics choice San Diego Fringe).

As a choreographer, Tupe was awarded the CNZ Sāmoa Artist in Residence 2019 and is currently developing a work there. She was a specialist choreographer for the World of WearableArts 2018 and has mentored the Pacific Dance NZ choreographic lab. From 2009 – 2019 Tupe taught Siva Samoa as part of Whitireia Performing Arts Bachelor of Applied Arts.