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Nancy Wijohn

Te Rarawa, Ngai Tūhoe, Ngati Tahu, Ngati Whaoa
Choreographer, Performer, Co-Director
Atamira Dance Company

Nancy Wijohn works primarily in the medium of Māori contemporary dance. Her career spans over 17 years of performance, choreography for theatre, film, television and site specific purposes.

At a young age Nancy thrived in many sporting codes representing the Auckland region in Netball, Rugby and touch rugby. Her natural love of athleticism and physical prowess was the curiosity that one day led her to a dance audition that changed the course of life and career pathway.

In 2007 she graduated from Unitec’s performing arts degree with a contemporary dance major. She been in numerous roles over the years. Her highlights include working with the her partner Kelly Nash (Body Island), Bianca Hyslop and Rowan Piecere (He Huia Kaimanawa), Atamira, Okareka Dance Company, Douglas Wright, Carol Brown, Santee Smith, Daniel Belton, Lisa Reihana - IHI exhibition

In more recent years Nancy has been actively working alongside Kelly Nash as a Practitioner in ConTact C.A.R.E Flinchock release method and Co-founders of Body Island Company. Their recent collaboration with Atamira Dance Company in Tempo dance festival 2022 saw the fruition of new choreographic ideas that they look forward to developing further. Body Island also produced Te Hā / Te Kā where they teamed up with Threading Frames co-Director Joshua Faleatua which saw the making of 6 dance films that have were part of the Imaginative film festival in Toronto 2022 and Maorilands film festival in Ōtaki 2022.

Nancy is forever grateful for the dance teachers that have inspired her journey and mostly grateful for her dance career that has shaped and deepened her connection to Te Ao Māori.


Pito explores themes around maternal connection, the connection to our mothers and forbearers. I am interested in how this can be affected by external threats, sickness and death. The work attempts to find metaphoric ways to resolve, negotiate space, to navigate time and transcend from this world to life after death in a hope to remain intact with those that depart. Pito evokes the ideas of connection and disconnection through both imagery and audio-visual elements, transporting imaginations to a different time and environment. The work searches for truths that will challenge our habitual ways of moving. To find the idiosyncrasies of the body, to find an authenticity in both decision making and intention. Pito attempts to uncover meanings of loss, abandonment and pain to find light, enlightenment and love. It searches to interrogate what it means to die, not just of the physical but to feel death as some kind of device or object in which it can be played with, tipped upside down and given its freedom. A void of despair, maybe in a moment filled with humour, and in the sadness there is also beauty. I look for signs in the whenua, and in whakapapa. I look for signs of truth of both life and death. Pito —to be human and to be at peace.

" evocative, specific and personal journey that investigates numerous relationships and its strength is both in its simplicity and specificity."

Dione Joseph, DANZ Magazine, 2016.

  • Career highlights
  • Education
  • Choreography
  • Commissioned works
  • Residencies
  • Speaking
  • Performance experience
  • Jacobs Pillow tour
  • Hawaiin and North American Tour
  • AUT – Maori Contemporary dance
  • Unitec – BPSA Major Contemporary dance
  • Tūhoe Whakapapa
  • Paarua
  • Pito
  • Nancy made 'Letter's of the Land' for the Banff Indigenous Dance residency, she also was commissioned to create Silent Partner on the Footnote Dance Company and choreographed Violet and Green on the Unitec Dance Students.
  • Indigenous Dance Residency Banff
  • Travelled to Canada to Facilitate, teach and lead talks with Indigenous artists in Six Nations Ontario Canada. These talks were curated and led by Santee Smith of Kaha:wi dance theatre Company as part of her 'Creation Lab'.
  • Atamira Dance Company
  • Ōkāreka Dance Company