Pacific Dance Festival blends tradition with contemporary flavour

The curtains have been pulled back on the first performance of this year's Pacific Dance Festival. 

Both student and professional dancers took centre stage in south Auckland last night, delivering a showcase of traditional moves with a contemporary flavour.

One of the performances, called Moana, is made up of six short dance pieces, one of them performed by dancer Lyncia Muller.

"Our piece is called Fetongi, so it's basically the Tongan word for change," she said.

Ms Muller says it was a theme she couldn't ignore.

"I felt like it resonated with me because I'm constantly changing as a person, and being rooted in my culture, I'm also changing through other influences."

Taking inspiration from her Pacific heritage, Ms Muller uses a series of winding movements set against a backdrop of traditional song.

Organiser Sefa Enari says this format is what the Pacific Dance Festival is all about.

"What we wanted to do is provide a platform for our contemporary dancers to bring their work into a theatrical setting," he said.

The event wants to break away from more traditional outdoor festivals like Polyfest and Pasifika.

Now in its third year, Mr Enari says the event it's a great springboard for emerging Pacific and Māori talent.

"They are probably the ones that find it the most difficult to break into the industry."

Braedyn Humphries is a third year dance student, also performing one of six parts from Moana. He says he's honoured to show off his piece, which is about cultural identity.

"[I don't know] too much about Samoan culture, so it's been interesting, even the language and I haven't visited there so I feel quite unfamiliar as to who I am."

There's plenty more stories to tell with Moana - just one of 11 different shows being performed over the next two weeks.