Fresh Movement are about to present a special show next week, MĀUI, which is being presented by Pacific Dance Festival and Auckland Live. We caught up with choreographer and director Hadleigh Pousei to chat about creating the show, the importance of storytelling, and what audiences could expect from a revisited favourite. 

Can you share with us a bit about your role/involvement with Fresh Movement’s MĀUI show? 

I am the director of MĀUI and also serve as a choreographer and writer for the show. On the ground, that is basically the person that pulls everything together and make sure that the performers know where they need to be and what they need to do to drive the story forward. 

How long have you and the team been working on MĀUI and do you have a highlight from the pre-production process? 

MĀUI has actually been in development since 2018. It first premiered as part of the Auckland Fridge Festival at the Auckland Town Hall and has since been a part of the Pacific Dance Festival for a number of years. Each time we revisit this magical work, bits change and develop and we grow the work more. A massive highlight has been seeing our cast connect more with their Pacific roots and dive into their rich culture of Moana-nui-a-kiwa. 

What can the audience expect when they come along to see MĀUI and what do you hope they may take away from it? 

MĀUI is something special, and to tell this story we pull on all forms of performing arts. We not only have groundbreaking choreography, but also some amazing live music, spoken word, animation, and physical theatre that creates the magical world of MĀUI. Ideally, we want to create a space that brings the old-school books of MĀUI (by Peter Gossage) to life and create a sense of nostalgia, pride, and inspiration to our audiences.

You’ve worked in the creative industry for more than 15 years, what do you love most about the dance and theatre arena that you’ve been working in? 

I love telling stories, I love telling Pacific stories. I love that you can create a space that is similar to a movie cinema but no matter how much rehearsing and planning is done, every show provides its own challenges and dynamics. I love the thrill of getting works ready, I love the gasps and reactions of the audience and I love the comradery that is created through the cast as the journey develops. 

Hadleigh rounded up the chat by saying “celebrate our country’s first Matariki public holiday by escaping to the world of MĀUI. A thrilling theatre show that brings the Pacific legend to life for one night only.”

You can head along on Thursday 23rd June to MĀUI at Auckland’s Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre,
tickets are available from Ticketmaster.