Meremere is a powerful and moving performance in which dancer Rodney Bell (Ngāti Maniapoto) brings to life his incredible journey; ranging from the highs of an international performance career to the lows of homelessness in America to redemption in the form of a return to Aotearoa and reconnection with his Māori and artistic heritage. It opens at Circa Theatre this Friday.
A critically acclaimed dancer and performer, Bell is internationally renowned for his physically integrated performance and has been dancing professionally since 1994 when he began as a founding member of Touch Compass Dance Trust. Bell relocated to California in 2007 to join AXIS Dance Company as principal dancer. He won numerous awards, including a coveted Isadora Duncan Dance Award in 2009. In 2012, Bell’s life started to unravel. The catalyst was a fire that burnt down the apartment block in which he was living. Bell lost everything and found it difficult to find a new home. Then his work with AXIS ended, and lacking the means to come home, he fell into homelessness. Bell spent the next three years navigating the streets of San Francisco, sleeping on park benches and in homeless shelters, before – with the assistance of San Francisco based charity HandUp – he was finally able to return to New Zealand.
“It was a time of learning to endure” Bell says. “You draw on superhuman powers when you’re in survival mode. On the coldest nights I’d wrap clothes around my head. I’d be able to sleep through a lot of it because I was super tired. Negotiating the streets is a marathon. You’re always moving, trying to find essentials like running water.”
The work powerfully layers movement, projected imagery and documentary footage to bring his stories to life in an hour-long work. A beautiful, and intimate performance experience that invites the audience inside this unique and inspirational memoir. Meremere features live music by renowned composer Eden Mulholland.
Performer and creator Rodney Bell; Director Malia Johnston; In partnership with Touch Compass Dance Trust. Collaborating Artists include, Rowan Pierce (Audio Visual), Tui Matira Ranapiri-Ransfield (Tikanga, Te Reo, Matauranga Maori Dramaturg), Emma Willis (Dramaturgy), John Verryt (Set Design), Ruby Reihana-Wilson (Lighting), Ian Hammond (Graphic Design).
- Meremere on at Circa Theatre 22-30 June 2018