Rodney Bell to tour New Zealand next month

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Auckland, May 15, 2018

After a hugely successful premiere at Tempo Dance Festival in 2016, Rodney Bell returns for a seven-centre North Island tour of his award-winning solo performance work Meremere from June 5 and June 30 including performances and workshops in prisons.

Meremere is an autobiographical work in response to Bell’s unimaginable life, and the series of events that have been incredibly unique for one individual to experience in a lifetime.

Collaborative Work

This multimedia performance piece has been developed in collaboration with director Malia Johnston’s performance design company Movement of the Human (MOTH).

Meremere has seen Bell win the 2017 Arts Access Artistic Achievement Award, and the 2016 Attitude Artistic Achievement Award in what has been an extraordinary career.

An abridged version of the show will be performed to inmates in Northland Regional Corrections Facility in Kaikohe and Hawkes Bay Regional Prison.

Richard Benge, Executive Director of Arts Access Aotearoa said that Rodney Bell is an inspiring role model who has overcome significant life challenges to become a leading dancer, giving back to society in Aotearoa.

“Rodney’s passion for his Maori heritage and his life experiences, depicted in Meremere, will resonate with women and men in prison. Seeing Rodney perform and engaging with him can be an unforgettable, sometimes life-changing, experience,” he said.

International celebrity

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, touring to 32 states until 2012. Bell faced many challenges after finishing with AXIS before his return to New Zealand, including a period of homelessness on the streets of San Francisco; a life changing experience that inspired the creation of Meremere.

Bell and Malia Johnston danced together between 1999-2003 and Rodney has worked closely with Malia since his return to Aotearoa.

Johnston has a 20-year background in choreography and performance direction, she has collaborated with an incredibly diverse range of performers and arts organisations, creating new work for both the national and international stage.

Johnston is notable for her many years of working on the World of Wearable Art Awards show and returns as the Creative Director for their 30th anniversary show in 2018.

Big Year

2018 is already looking to be a big year for Bell and Johnston, with two new works commissioned; A duet was part of the inaugural True Colours Festival in Singapore, which celebrated exceptional artists with disabilities from across the Asia Pacific region in March. The second piece Hurihuri was commissioned by Festival 2018, the arts and cultural programme of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and saw Rodney perform an aerial duet.

Some Reviews

“it is an incredibly moving autobiographical work” – Theatreview

“His dancing is moving and absorbing, sculptural and full of emotion…” – NZ Herald

“…it is an intrinsically New Zealand story of great courage and achievement…” – DANZ

Meremere plays
Tuesday, June 5 and Wednesday June 6, 2018
Te Pou Theatre, Auckland

Friday June 8, 2018
Te Kuiti Les Munro Centre, Te Kuiti

Sunday June 10, 2018
Turner Centre, Kerikeri

Monday June 18, 2018
Military Training Facility, Camp Conference Centre, Waiouru

Thursday, June 21 to Saturday June 30, 2018
Circa Theatre, Wellington

(Image Supplied)

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