Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television

since 1987

UoA dance student Chas Samoa awarded Prime Minister’s Scholarship

Source: The University of Auckland

Image from Pacific Dance Festival, for work choreographed by Ufitia Sagapolutele. PC: Mataara Stokes

Chas Samoa, a third year student at the School of Dance, University of Auckland, has been awarded a Prime Minister’s Scholarship set up to allow students to study abroad, alongside nine other UoA students including fellow third year dance student Alesha Wallabh. Both will be performing at the School’s End of Year performances this month.

Chas Samoa has been awarded a Scholarship to South America and will be travelling to Brazil, while Alesha Wallabh has won a Scholarship to Asia and will be travelling to India. Their end of year performance will be held at the Māngere Art Centre, which will be close to home for the two South Aucklanders.

Chas discovered dance and its potential to bring people together after joining SOAR, a community initiative set up to support local youth from South Auckland. It was through SOAR that she met up with other young people to dance and which “provided a family-orientated environment that I didn’t necessarily have in other places”.

She started out as a hip-hop dancer but would now describe herself as an emerging indigenous contemporary artist, who is reconnecting with her Samoan and Māori culture and heritage through dance and choreography.

In her end of year performance, she has choreographed a work in which she explores what it is to be a woman of Oceanic heritage, which will be performed by nine women of Oceanic or Māori decent. “It’s an exploration of who we are, and envisioning ourselves as Oceanic women through a decolonised lens of power.”

Chas is a champion of indigenous rights, and feelings of displacement have informed her dance and choreography. Her four weeks in Brazil, funded by the PM’s Scholarship, she says, “will strengthen my understanding of similarities that I have with Brazilian indigenous people, but also our differences”.

End of Year Performances are open to the public, and on November 6, 9, 13 and 16 Mangere Events Centre. Register through Eventbrite

You Might Be Interested In