Atamira Dance Company
Nancy Wijohn
Te Rarawa, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Tahu, Ngāti Whaoa
Atamira FEB24 headshots JCZ 5339 webres

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.

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.

Nancy's choreographic debut, "Tūhoe Whakapapa," commissioned and developed under the Atamira Hou new works programme in 2010, captured the essence of Tūhoe culture. This powerful piece drew inspiration from Elsdon Best's book "Tūhoe - The Children of The Mist" and offered an exploration of lineage, with a specific focus on her Ngāti Tāwhaki hapu and connection to the Mātatua waka. "Tūhoe Whakapapa" mesmerized audiences on a tour of the North Island in 2011, with its profound storytelling and earthy, primal energy.

In her subsequent work, "Paarua," Nancy delved into the world of competition, warfare tactics, and cunning game plans. This piece, which toured as part of the Kaha programme and even graced international stages in North America and Hawaii, celebrated the competitive spirit while breaking down the strategies that drive it.

Nancy's choreographic journey took a deeply personal turn with "Pito." This work delved into themes of maternal connection, loss, abandonment, and the pain associated with losing her mother to cancer. "Pito" explored the human journey from grief and abandonment to light, enlightenment, and love.

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.

Atamira Body Island KIKO 16381762 JC00202 hires

Nau Mai - KIKO (2022) 

The core idea of this work were imagery based inspirations that I had. In the short amount of time to put together a piece I knew I wanted to incorporate humour, entertainment and a parody of our human desires and relationships.

Be entertained. But then the question might be "should I be laughing at this?"

"This is complex, intense social somatic enquiry. Our very beingness is the evolving state of mutable creatureness." 
- Jaqs Clarke, Theatreview 2022 

ADC Manaia 1

Pito - Manaia (2016) 

Pito explores themes around maternal connection, the connection to our mothers and forbearers. 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. 

Nancy Wijohn's work