Lemi Ponifasio

Choreographer, Founder and Director
MAU (theatre + dance)
New Zealand

Lemi Ponifasio is acclaimed internationally for his radical approach to theatre, activism, and collaboration with communities. He grounds his work within communities worldwide and in diverse Maori and Oceanic cultures, exploring complex forms of knowledge such as oratory, navigation, architecture, chants, dance, music, ceremony, philosophies, and genealogies. These are the driving forces, emphasising local-oriented arts, indigenous cultural recovery, language, and knowledge, thought and narratives that have been silenced or excluded. Ponifasio established MAU in 1995 as the philosophical foundation, direction, and name of his work and the people and communities in which he works. MAU is a Samoan word meaning declaration of the truth of a matter. His collaborators are people from all walks of life, working and performing in factories, remote villages, opera houses, schools, marae, castles, galleries, and stadiums. His projects have included operas, theatre, dance, exhibitions, community forums and festivals in numerous countries, with creations presented at the Festival d’Avignon, Lincoln Center New York, BAM New York, Ruhrtriennale, Southbank London, Edinburgh International Festival, Theater der Welt, Theatre de la Ville Paris, Onassis Cultural Centre Athens, Holland Festival, Vienna Festival, Santiago a Mil Chile, the Venice Biennale amongst others.