2005 Laureate, Founder and Artistic Director of Black Grace, Neil Ieremia, is a courageous, honest and talented human being.
Neil is currently on a national tour with his latest work 'As Night Falls', and visited us in the office to answer questions about the current show and talk about the impact the Laureate Award had on him.
As Night Falls had a sold out season in Auckland in 2016, how has the work evolved since it was last performed in New Zealand?
I had to edit for the US tour earlier in the year, due to time restrictions. It made me really think about what was absolutely necessary and what wasn’t. It turned out to be a great exercise. I have since restored it with a number of changes which I feel really good about.
What inspired you to use the music of Antonio Vivaldi for As Night Falls?
During the research period I rediscovered a verse in the Bible from the book of Ecclesiastes which makes reference to seasons and times of change. This led to music about change and seasons etc. While I was drawn to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons I really struggled with it during rehearsals as it so well known and had been used in numerous other works as well as other media.
I persevered with it and it remained part of my "working music” playlist. I eventually gave in and started choreographing with it.
In 2005 you received an Arts Foundation Laureate award. Can you tell us what impact the award had on your work?
For me personally, it was and remains a great honour. To be validated in that way and to be included in the company of such great and creative people is a real buzz. It’s certainly given me more confidence in my work.
Black Grace is known internationally as one of New Zealand's leading contemporary dance companies. Does this reputation influence the work you create in any way to represent New Zealand on the world stage?
No, not really. The content of the work will always be what it will be. However in this context there is always more pressure on the quality of the delivery.
What do you hope people take away from As Night Falls?
A sense of inspiration and hope.
What is next on the agenda for Black Grace after the As Night Falls nationwide tour?
If you asked this a few months ago I would have given you the skinny on our schedule. But I am getting a sense that it is time for change again. Scary, exciting and necessary.