Press

Maori Performance

Salem, Mass. - On May 31 and June 1, the Peabody Essex Museum comes to life with the sounds and energy of the Maori, New Zealand's indigenous peoples, for a special Atrium Alive weekend exploring Maori traditions and culture.

Highlights for the weekend of performances and celebration include a unique performance by the Kahurangi Maori Dance Theatre of New Zealand - the only professional dance company comprised of indigenous New Zealanders touring North America - as well as films and art workshops.

The performances, workshops and demonstrations provide a glimpse into the history and fabric of Maori life. Songs and dances bridge past and present. Maori chants trace family history, while dramatic martial arts techniques span generations. The powerful songs of the Maori have a forcefulness that springs from cultural pride and personal convictions.

Video footage of the Kahurangi Maori Dance Theatre in performance is available on DVD for press by contact PEM Public Relations at 978-745-9500 x3228.

All presentations include narration and are suitable for audiences of all ages. Unless otherwise noted, all programs are included with museum admission and are made possible by New Trade Winds/ECHO.

Visitors attending the programs will also not want to miss the recently opened PEM exhibition Body Politics, Maori Tattoo Today (exhibition description below).

Saturday, May 31

Gallery Talk | Body Politics, Maori Tattoo Today
11 am | Body Politics gallery and Oceanic Art galleries
Reservations by May 29
Ataahua Papa of the Kahurangi Maori Dance Theatre of New Zealand leads a tour in the galleries, discusses selected objects on display and provides insights from the indigenous perspective.

Drop-in Art Activity
Noon - 3 pm | Atrium
Celebrate the artistry and innovation of creating individual taongas (similar to charms) with members of the Kahurangi troupe.

Gallery Activities
Noon - 12:30 pm | PEM galleries
Younger children enjoy storytelling using movement and sound. They can also play Maori hand games and learn how to pronounce Maori song lyrics.

Workshop | Maori Song and Dance
1 pm | East India Marine Hall
Learn Maori songs and the actions that accompany them. Maori use their hands in a form of sign language to help sign the song. Learn how to use titi torea (two short sticks).

Film | Skin Stories: The Art and Culture of Polynesian Tattoo
2 pm | Morse Auditorium
Directed by Lisa Altieri, Emiko Omori and Karin Williams
2003, 60 minutes
Reservations by May 29
Skin Stories is an anthology of Pacific tattoo stories and images, from the steaming landscape of Rotorua in New Zealand to the vibrant first international tattoo convention in Apia, Samoa, and from the lush taro fields of Maui, Hawai'i, to the golden beaches of California. The legacy of Polynesian tattoo began over 2,000 years ago and is as diverse as the people who wear tattoos. Despite the encroachment of Christian religious beliefs that vilified tattooing as unholy, many Polynesian tattoo artists maintain their vital link to their culture's history by preserving this unique art form.

Dance Performance | Taonga
3:15 pm | Atrium
Taonga (treasures) highlights the different aspects of life that Maori regard as sacred and prized. These treasures include the tangible - pounamu (greenstone/jade) that is found in one river and used for jewelry and making tools; carved pendants and earrings made of natural materials; traditional clothing made from flax and bird feathers - and the intangible - geographic landmarks within a tribal area; tribal affiliations; genealogical links; the Maori language. Members of the Kahurangi Maori Dance Theatre of New Zealand convey taonga stories through a vivid repertoire of tribal music and dance. Wearing handcrafted regalia and brandishing taiaha (Maori weaponry), the young men perform fierce war dances. Maori women dancers gracefully twirl poi (a ball on the end of a string that depicts a bird in flight) in intricate patterns.

Sunday, June 1

Gallery Talk | Body Politics, Maori Tattoo Today
11 am | Body Politics gallery and Oceanic Art galleries
See May 31 listing.

Drop-in Art Activity
Noon - 3 pm | Atrium
See May 31 listing.

Gallery Activities
Noon - 12:30 pm | PEM galleries
See May 31 listing.

Poi Workshop
1 pm | Atrium
Poi (soft rhythm balls on strings) were originally used by Maori women and men to increase their flexibility and strength. Eventually, the practice developed into a performance art. Come learn how to make and use poi.

Film | Skin Stories: The Art and Culture of Polynesian Tattoo
2 pm | Morse Auditorium
See May 31 listing.

Dance Performance | Taonga
3:15 pm | Atrium
See May 31 listing.

Related exhibitions on view now at the Peabody Essex Museum

 

Body Politics photographBody Politics, Maori Tattoo Today
Through February 1, 2009

This exhibition features moko, the Maori art of facial or body tattooing, and includes stunning images by Dutch-born photographer Hans Neleman. Maori moko are distinguished by their expressions of identity - personal, social and tribal. Dating back hundreds of years, the art form is undergoing a resurgence as New Zealand's Maori reassert their cultural traditions. The exhibition of 30 large-format images and several objects from the museum's own extensive collection of Maori carvings invite an exploration of Maori design, inspiration and contemporary culture. Media Partners: The Phoenix and 101.7WFNX.

PR Contacts:

Whitney Van Dyke  -  Manager of Public Relations  -  978-745-9500 X3228  -  whitney_vandyke@pem.org

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