Pioneering dance company Black Grace will join forces with Pacific playwright Victor Rodger and hip-hop legends Matthew Faiumu Salapu (Anonymouz) and Andy Morton (Submariner) for a new dance work which explores masculinity through the eyes of Pacific men.

Crying Men will be choreographed by Black Grace founder Neil Ieremia with an original story written by Rodger underpinning the work while new music has been commissioned from Salapu and Morton.

It is the first time Rodger has worked with Black Grace, started by Ieremia in 1995 with 10 male dancers of Pacific, Maori and New Zealand heritage. Since then, the company has built an international reputation for highly physical work which draws on traditional Pacific and contemporary dance often built around gritty and urban themes.

Crying Men traces the journey of three generations of Pacific men, living in a new land and dealing with the loss of a matriarch who brought balance to the traditional expectations of masculinity with compassion, tolerance and strength. It will use gesture and elements of traditional Pacific storytelling alongside song and dance.

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An Arts Laureate, Ieremia was raised in a working-class neighbourhood in Porirua. He'll return to Porirua in September, after Crying Men opens in Auckland, to stage Black Grace & Friends. This will see the company collaborate with dance students from tertiary institution Whitireia and local high schools as well as youth strings orchestra Virtuoso Strings. Those performances will include an excerpt from Crying Men.

Lowdown
What: Crying Men
Where & when: ASB Waterfront Theatre, September 6 — 8
What: Black Grace & Friends
Where & when: Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua, September 20 — 21