A good part of the excitement at Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's latest dance project, Ruaumoko, was experiencing our city's favourite orchestra in the faux-Egyptian temple of The Civic, and feeling the vibes of an audience that you might not meet up with in the Town Hall on a Thursday night.

CEO Barbara Glaser had promised us a live performance spectacle, and who better to guarantee this than choreographer Moss Patterson, responsible for 2014's stunning Firebird project.

Two years ago Patterson had his evil sorcerer Whiro te tipua dancing to Stravinsky; tonight the wily wizard was given a homegrown soundtrack.

Gareth Farr's 1997 orchestral score Ruaumoko provided most of the music, with atmospheric electronic soundscapes by Paddy Free and exultant kapahaka breaking through in an exultant Finale.


The 45 minutes of Ruaumoko dealt out an allegory of the struggle of light against dark, good against evil, brought to bristling life by 150 dancers, ranging from Patterson's own Atamira troupe to scores of tertiary, secondary and primary dance students.

Robin Rawstorne's striking set, a giant Maori whai or cat's-cradle, offered a clever take on Whiro te tipua's cave.

Patterson's treatment of his massive dance corps was unfailingly inventive, as it clustered together and writhed into life after the opening haka.

There were brilliant professional turns, one from a trio of lithe young men, but the theatrical coup had a warrior-like, bare-torsoed dancer holding aloft a crouching Pakeha child. It was a breathtakingly controlled pas de deux, catching the multicultural diversity of our city in one unforgettable image.

What: Ruaumoko

Where: The Civic

When: Saturday