A dancer is coming to Whangārei this weekend to tell his extraordinary life story through a performance which has brought audiences to their feet.
Rodney Bell, originally from Te Kuiti, is performing an autobiographical dance work called Meremere as part of a nation-wide tour and is performing in Whangārei on Saturday.
Bell is internationally renowned as a pioneer in physically integrated dance which is a style combining performances from those with and without physical disabilities. He has danced professionally since 1994 with TV appearances and teaching to both disabled and non-disabled dancers along the way.
Bell has suffered intense hardships in his life; as well as a motorcycle accident, aged 19, that left him paralysed from below the chest, he experienced homelessness and living on the street when he was based as a principal dancer in San Francisco, California.
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Before his accident, Bell was an active sportsman and played a lot of rugby. Since his accident, he has represented New Zealand in both wheelchair rugby and basketball.
In the past few years he has also performed in Singapore and Australia and among his multiple awards, in 2020 became the inaugural recipient of the Te Waka Toi Te Tohu O Pūmanawa award for contribution of a Māori artist with the lived experience of disability.
Bell's life-changing experiences inspired the creation of Meremere. The multimedia show uses his breath-taking dancing, live music and amazing audio-visual projections to recount his life story and his journey home, both physically and spiritually.
The NZ Herald described the performance as, "moving and absorbing, sculptural and full of emotion".
Developed in collaboration with director Malia Johnston's performance design company Move of the Human, Meremere will be performed at Forum North on Saturday at 7pm. Tickets from eventfinda.