Lemi Ponifasio is a Samoan choreographer and the founder and director of MAU, New Zealand's most prolific international contemporary dance and theatre company. His works have been called genius, powerful, frightening, beautiful, inspirational, his critical eye on our times and fearless vision continuing to provoke both attention and controversy.
Based in Auckland, New Zealand, MAU performs at major international theatres and festivals such as the Edinburgh International Festival, Theatre de la Ville Paris, the Holland Festival, the Venice Biennale and Vienna Festival.
Ponifasio's latest creation "Birds With Skymirrors" was presented at the Edinburgh International Festival 2010 and Theater Der Welt RUHR 2010. Ponifasio also staged the MAUForum at the Charlottenburg Castle in Berlin 2010. The MAUForum was established by Ponifasio in 2005 to explore new theatre forms for encounter between artists and community.
"Tempest", a series of works responding to the escalation of state powers and unlawful detention in the post 9/11- world, was premiered in Vienna in June 2007 and has also been performed at such places as the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre London 2008, Theatre de la Ville Paris 2010 and Volksbühne Berlin 2010. Tempest is a work that concerns human rights and examines the philosophical works of Walter Benjamin and Giorgio Agamben.
"Requiem" (2006) was commissioned by Artistic Director Peter Sellars for the New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna, celebrating the 250th anniversary of Mozart. Requiem was also presented at KVS Royal Flemish Theatre Brussels 2006, ASB Theatre Auckland 2007, the Southbank Centre London 2007 and the Lincoln Center New York in 2008.
In 2003 Ponifasio toured the Pacific Region with his work "Paradise". "Paradise" was also presented at the Venice Biennale and the Auckland Festival in 2003 and the Holland Festival and Theater der Welt in 2005. The world premiere of "Paradise" at the Auckland Festival was noted for the riotous participation of the audience through oratory, singing and chanting tributes from elders and young alike at the beginning and at the end of the performance, led prominently by the present Minister of Maori Affairs and the founder of the Maori Political Party, Dr Pita Sharples.
At the end of 2011 Ponifasio was awarded an Arts Foundation Laureate Award.
- text adapted from Wikipedia
- portrait by Günter Karl Bose courtesy of Berliner Festspiele
- performance photos by Sebastian Bolesch courtesy of Berliner Festspiele