The novelist Albert Wendt describes Lemi Ponifasio as "a modern taulaitu who fishes out of the depth of our collective being a haunting primaeval imagery and menagerie of creatures who confront us with their basic truth about body, bone, flesh, the Ao, the Po, silence that chants, fear and hope, and sight, all connected in the Va-Atoa, the unity - that is All. His creations struggle to be born, to live and find their apt shapes, movement, and voices. And we recognize ourselves and our beginnings and our future in their indomitable, searching dance."
Lemi Ponifasio was born in the village of Lano, Samoa. He is one of New Zealand's leading theatre artists and a pioneer in the evolution of Pacific contemporary dance and theatre. He is founder and artistic director of MAU, which he established in 1995, naming it after the Samoan independence movement Mau. His work has been presented throughout the Pacific Islands and at major international arts events including the Venice Biennale, Holland Festival, Adelaide Festival, Prague Quadrennial and Theatre der Welt in Germany.
While known for his radical approach to the contemporary theatre, Ponifasio's work is firmly rooted in the values of the Pacific. He refers to his work as a pursuit of the Va-body, a conscious and response able state of being. His performances exist in state of ritual and ceremony and in between the elements of dance, theatre, oratory and visual arts.
Upcoming projects include Requiem, for the Vienna Festival 250th Mozart Anniversary and Transit of Venus for the London International Theatre Festival (LIFT).
'In Venice we have been able to corroborate that the theatre has still a meaning, when it does not follow established patterns, but it establishes unease, fearfulness, discomfort. It is an uncomfortable feeling but unavoidable and compulsory, and one that leads us 'all'amore'.'