The Performing Arts Center presents the Kahurangi Maori Dance Theatre of New Zealand on March 24 at 8 p.m. in Ramsey Concert Hall. Kahurangi, which means “Cloak from Heaven,” portrays the traditional dances that combine elements of Maori performance including music, drama, incantations and oratory. Tickets are $20 (half-price for UGA students with valid IDs; one ticket per student).
Since 1990, Kahurangi Maori Dance Theatre has been educating and entertaining audiences in the culture and traditions of the Maori people of New Zealand. Kahurangi is New Zealand’s only full-time professional Maori Dance Theatre that regularly tours throughout North America. The company members of Kahurangi are all graduates of the Takitimu Performing Arts School in Hastings, New Zealand, which is one of the leading innovators in traditional Maori performing arts training. It is the only school of its kind to grant a bachelor of Maori performing arts degree. After graduation, each member of the Kahurangi company usually spends two years performing internationally before returning home to New Zealand.
Act I of the Kahurangi performance portrays the rituals and customs of the harvest according to Maori tradition. The opening song, “Awhi Kau Ana,” recalls the love of Ranginui (Sky Father) and Papatuanuku (Earth Mother). The dancers of Kahurangi take the audience through the story of how Ranginui and Papatuanuku were joined together and how the cycles of the harvest were created.
Act II showcases the traditions and rituals that are still practiced today, along with the myths and legends that Maori have retained to help keep the culture alive. The stories tell of genealogy, history and tribal customs, all delivered in the Maori language.