In a dynamic presentation to the P.A.A. conference, creative director of Le Moana, Tupe Lualua, spoke about the intertwining influences of both academia and art in her work culminating with a live performance of Le Moana dancers with special guests of the aumaga from the village of Savaia and Lefaga.
In her opening presentation, she gave her interpretation on the conferences’ theme of “Making the invisible visible”.
“Here at the P.A.A. conference, I’ve heard an ongoing regurgitation of this concept in making the invisible visible, but this is something we do every day, this is something we live and breathe,” she said.
“We find opportunities and spaces for our content to be seen, we create opportunities where I can have some of the most beautiful dancers in my life to be seen, we create opportunities where we have these young men from the mau mauga, the taulealea come to N.U.S. to perform in the conference.”
As a lecturer of Pacific Studies 101 at Victoria University Wellington, Zealand, she reminded the conference of what was at the heart of Pacific Studies.
“Pacific studies is about valuing all different kinds of knowledge. It’s not just about what’s written in books, it’s about speaking to your elders , it’s about talking to your village and all of those that can contribute to the conversation, that’s what studies of the Pacific are about.
“It’s interdisciplinary, its 360 degrees, it’s you sitting in the va’a and not being sure about where you’re going to go but wherever you decide to go, there’s always somewhere to go, there’s always something to find, there’s always something to discover.”
For the last eight days, Lualua and Le Moana dancers have been in Savaia, Lefaga living in the village and working in the plantation with the aumaga of the village. The dancers worked with the aumaga and learnt how to do everything that taulealea are meant to do.
“Their service is unconditional, it is consistent. It is true,” Lualua said of the Aumaga of a village.
“And its one 100 percent to honour your family whenever their names are called, they’re up. They are the first people to rise in the morning and the last people to go to sleep at night. They make sure that everything their family need is there.”
“We’ve been in the plantation where they planted 1000 tiapula in two hours and learnt about planting taro, the difference in taros and the way that climate has affected that taro grows now. How the effects of the tsunami have changed the ways the crops are grown,” Lualua said.
“The way the men are able to sustain these things every day. The dancers have really taken on this whole lifestyle and they are learning everything the taulealea have to do.”
The aim of Le Moana’s field study in the plantation was to marry academic and dance research with actual life experience, with Lualua saying that learning all the choreography in the world doesn’t mean anything if you haven’t actually lived it.
The conference were moved with the Le Moana performance where both choreographers and the members of the aumaga performed together with the movements they had developed in their field research in the plantation.
The P.A.A. conference officially closed with a banquet on Thursday night at Villa Vailima, the Robert Louis Stevenson museum.