Lealailepule Edward Cowley (from left), Petesa Maea,

Sina-Lorelie Eser

The formidable New Zealand national rugby union team, known as the All Blacks (referring to their mono-color uniforms), performs a Māori war dance known as the haka before every match. Black Grace, the dance company created by Neil ieremia, a New Zealander of Samoan descent, presents dance that is physical, rhythmic, and high energy, like the haka on steroids. This South Pacific energy is coming to the Lensic on Friday, July 22.

ieremia, 52, a former rugby player himself, grew up in Cannons Creek, a tough neighborhood filled with struggling Pacific Islanders in Porirua, a suburb about 20 minutes from the New Zealand capital of Wellington. “Samoans sing all the time. We dance, perform, tell jokes. But to become a professional dancer? That is not an option. Dance is not a profession,” ieremia says.

A connection to culture: Black Grace

Rodney Tyrell

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