The Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance - Previous Recipients

Kristie Mortimer image

Kristie Mortimer

Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2020

Kristie Mortimer is currently researching her PhD in Dance Studies at the University of Auckland on dance education and community dance practices, which complements her extensive teaching experience.

Her proposed Fellowship project is “Dance with offenders, at-risk youth and children of offenders”.

Its three main aims are to run dance classes with prisoners; an activity with an organisation who works with children of prisoners; and weekly classes for at-risk youth or offenders who are being reintegrated into the community.

“I was extremely honoured and excited to find out that I would be the Fellow for 2020. I’m currently working on completing my PhD and the Fellowship offered the perfect opportunity to continue providing dance experiences with diverse groups of people in our communities.”

Mortimer learnt about the Fellowship at a community dance conference in Dunedin in 2015, and has since been waiting for the right time to apply.

“I felt empowered reading and hearing about Caroline Plummer and her beliefs and aspirations for community dance in New Zealand. Her comment, ‘I can only hope dance can be utilised in more and more positive ways to help embrace the diversity and difference that makes our world so fantastic’ is what resonated with me most. I share Plummer’s vision to ‘inspire education, healing, and peace in our community’. To be able to provide dance within the Otago community as the Caroline Plummer Fellow is truly an honour.”

Photo of Antonio Ssebuuma

Antonio Ssebuuma

Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2019

With more than 16 years of dance experience as a performer, teacher, choreographer, community arts practitioner, and director of arts initiatives, Antonio Ssebuuma has had the opportunity to work in diverse cultural, artistic and social contexts.

Throughout his career, he has sought to engage and empower communities, including working with disadvantaged communities, in slums and orphanages in Uganda, Europe and New Zealand.

His artistic practice includes a blend of styles including hip-hop, contemporary, dancehall break-dance, house dance, and Ugandan traditional dances.

He describes his appointment to the Fellowship as a “landmark” in his career which fills him with “great joy and faith”.

“It is a very uncommon opportunity getting someone all the way from Kampala, East Africa, to Dunedin, in the far south of New Zealand. It confirms how the Fellowship walks the talk, and I am going to give it my best execution to give more pride to the name.”

The self-described dance-nomad, says he will spend the year on a project which aims to bridge communities in Dunedin and integrate his dance experience into institutional settings.

“I hope to pave new ways for collaborations and partnerships as I bring together people of diverse backgrounds into a safe space to build mutual relationships and networks. I hope that my project will be an inspiration to many and create reference in various ways.”

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Photo of Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith

Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2018

Matthew Smith is from Auckland. He has a BAppSc (Human Biology) from Unitec, and is currently completing a Masters of Osteopathy. His 17-year career as a performer, teacher and dance-maker has taken him to more than 50 countries worldwide. Work he has choreographed has been performed in Oslo, Zagreb, Amsterdam and Vienna.

His fellowship project aims to use dance to enhance health and wellbeing at any age. He has already developed a community dance class for older men to help them gain confidence in coordination and balance. He plans to expand this to different age groups and to develop an educational/community resource which could be used worldwide via on-line platforms and DVD.

He is excited to research, develop and implement a number of different community programmes in his home town of Dunedin.

“I will be creating a movement/partnering class for fathers and their babies. I will also be developing further a programme I began in Auckland called “More men moving more” which was in cooperation with Men's Health Trust. This was a class for elderly men focusing on important movement skills such as balance and refining coordination associated with mobility.

“My dance career began in Dunedin and I am very happy to return. I look forward to giving back to my community by sharing something of what I have learned in my years away and abroad.”

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Photo of Caroline Sutton Clark

Caroline Sutton Clark

Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2017

Dr Caroline Sutton Clark has enjoyed a wide-ranging career in dance, studying dance forms, performing professionally with ballet, modern, and butoh companies, and been involved in many choreography projects. She has also created oral history archives and won awards for her research.

She says learning about Caroline Plummer and her vision for community dance has been an inspiration.

“I am thrilled and honoured to accept the research fellowship in her name. My oral history project, Dancing Our Stories, will assemble an archive of interviews with people who dance in diverse ways in the Otago region, offer workshops that explore sharing oral histories and how movement can enrich the process of rediscovering and reintegrating memories, and culminate in a community dance performance.”

Dance stories focus of Fellowship

Thanks to the Otago Bulletin Board, where this article was featured, July 2017

Image for Dancing our Stories

Community dance groups from around Dunedin performed at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery on Sunday 30 July – the culmination of Dr Caroline Sutton Clark’s six-month tenure as the Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance.

Dr Clark used her time quite differently from those who have held the Fellowship before her. Rather than teaching dance classes that lead towards a performance, she recorded the oral histories of local dance groups.

"My proposal has been to create an oral history archive as a portrait of the Dunedin community. It is a different way of supporting the wellbeing of the community through dance."

Photo of Caroline Sutton Clark

Since arriving in Dunedin from Austin, Texas, in January, she has conducted 26 interviews with 29 people, who represent 24 different dance forms. They range from members of Pacific Island dance and Haka groups, to those who have been involved in Dunedin’s ballet, hip hop, Scottish, Chinese or classical Indian dance scenes.

Her interviews, each about an hour in length, focus on each person’s experience of dance, and their experience of dance in Dunedin.

Dr Clark says she has always thrived in one-on-one conversation, and is very interested in the minutiae of everyday life.

“I can be talking to a dancer about a 1970s tour across the country, and I’ll wonder about the details – like ‘what did you eat?’ and ‘how did you find places to eat’ and ‘how did you do your laundry?’. Thinking about these details stimulates memory for the person I’m talking to as well. While they are tiny details for an archive, they are also connected to very big pictures of towns, politics and beliefs.”

Dr Clark comes from a diverse dance background – including performing as a professional ballet dancer, a modern dancer, and working on choreography projects. She holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Hawaii, and a PhD in Dance from Texas Women's University.

While travelling across the world to take up a Fellowship in Dunedin was a big move, Dr Clark says from the moment she read about the opportunity it resonated with her.

“Its intents, the vision of the Fellowship from Caroline Plummer to promote wellbeing of community through dance. My vision has always been that as well.”

The Caroline Plummer Fellowship was established in 2003 in honour of Caroline Plummer, who completed a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and a Diploma for Graduates in Dance. She was diagnosed and treated for cancer during her studies, and died in 2003, just after graduating. She had a passion for dance, and a vision for the healing role of dance.

Dr Clark says her oral histories, when taken together, provide a really positive and interesting view of the role of dance in people’s lives.

These range from the physical benefits of fitness and flexibility, to emotional and cognitive benefits.

"It’s just been such a pleasure listening to people talk about how much dance has improved their quality of life."

“Dance takes a lot of focus and takes brain power for people to remember sequences and patterns,” Dr Clark explains.

For many people the social component is also important – for some their dance group is the one part of the week when they can socialise with others. And for others it is cultural immersion – people have been able to learn more about their culture by dancing their traditional dances.

“It depends on the form of dance in some ways, but for me it’s a whole package deal.”

She says while people were happy to speak with her, at first many felt their story wasn’t important.

“I completely disagree. It’s just been such a pleasure to listen to people talk about how much dance has improved their quality of life.”

Dr Sutton recorded all of the interviews, and has had two thirds of them transcribed. The complete set will be held at the Hocken Library, while individual interviews will also be given back to people and their families.

“I have facilitated the telling of their life story. It’s their life story, and it’s lovely for their families to have that interview; people rarely take the time.

“But it’s not a comprehensive history, and it’s not a biography. It’s simply what came up in one particular conversation on one day with me.”

"Dunedin has been a real jewel for me to explore my research into dance, and I would like to keep this kind of community-based research going in my work."

While Dr Clark’s performance event on Sunday was not a direct representation of her work on the Fellowship – it was a bringing together of the groups who were involved in the research.

All of the groups were asked to perform, and about half took up the offer.

Each performed in different areas, and the audience was able to walk through the gallery and discover them.

“It will be a metaphor of how I found these people,” Dr Clark says. “I had to look around Dunedin for them. Also, it makes it more fun.”

The performance was a chance for the different groups to meet one another, and for the Dunedin public to see the diverse range of community dance groups operating here.

Dr Sutton returned to the United States in early August – and hopes to continue with this field of work.

“Dunedin has been a real jewel for me to explore my research into dance, and I would like to keep this kind of community-based research going in my work.”

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Val Smith performance profile photo

val smith

Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2016

Choreographic artist val smith graduated in 2014 from the University of Auckland with a Master of Creative Performance and Arts (First Class Honours).

In recent years, val has worked as a professional teaching fellow in dance studies at the University of Auckland, a dance lecturer at UNITEC Institute of Technology, and has created more than 40 live art works since graduating from UNITEC’s contemporary dance degree programme in 2000, presenting both at home, and in Australia, the US and Finland.

“What a delight to be offered the Caroline Plummer Fellowship for 2016.

I feel excited for this opportunity to work with queer, trans and rainbow communities in Dunedin to develop somatic choreographic processes for performance."

June 2016

This Cloud Is
Is it possible to queer space?

A performance installation by val smith, 2016 Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance, and Community of Touch; featuring Eves.

This is the final performance event for val's Caroline Plummer Fellowship Community Dance project, THIS CLOUD IS QUEERING!

The final event This Cloud Is, asks 'What is Queer Space? Is it possible to queer space? and Can we make queerness visible?', in a continuation of the project’s choreographic focus on developing somatic performance practices for queering space.

More about val's Community Dance project

The project, THIS CLOUD IS QUEERING! has been engaging Dunedin’s trans and queer communities in one-on-one walks, conversations, community building experiments, studio research, and site-oriented workshops in a process of mapping embodied experience of public space. The final event This Cloud Is, asks 'What is Queer Space? Is it possible to queer space? and Can we make queerness visible?', in a continuation of the project’s choreographic focus on developing somatic performance practices for queering space.

In partnership with Urban Dream Brokerage, who broker for the temporary innovative use of vacant central city spaces, This Cloud Is will occupy George Street’s Under Market in a participatory residency for 2 weeks from June 6-20th.

The public are invited to visit the residency during the day, and attend a one-night-only roaming performance installation at 7.30pm on Sunday June 19th. This performance installation has been created by val smith in collaboration with local performers and artists, including sound artist Eves who returns from Melbourne to perform live.

Current debate regarding bathrooms and the human rights of transgender folks brings attention to complex issues for gender minorities around navigating public space. People of gender and sexual minorities often face daily concerns of exclusion, harassment and violence, safety, agency, visibility and invisibility. How these issues influence the way we move through cities has been creatively mapped through the project THIS CLOUD IS QUEERING! to include the embodied trace of places that are avoided, and spaces of refuge, for congregating, dating and creative practice.

Facebook page for the project THIS CLOUD IS QUEERING!

This Cloud Is

Is it possible to queer space?

A performance Installation by val smith & Community of Touch
Featuring Eves

Sunday 19 June
Under Market, 177 George Street, Dunedin

Entry free

Poster for This Cloud Is event


February 2016 - About THIS CLOUD IS QUEERING!

My project THIS CLOUD IS QUEERING! is based on a process of mapping queer and trans experiences of public spaces through Dunedin city. The mapping process will involve one-on-one walks, conversation, site-oriented somatic experiments and performance tests. I am interested in documenting places of significance through the intersectional perspectives of local queer and trans* folk, including places that are avoided, places of refuge, and spaces for congregating, dating and creativity.

How do we navigate city spaces in relation to issues of inclusion and exclusion, harassment and violence, safety, agency, celebration, visibility and invisibility?

In particular, I am curious about how to map queer feelings and other ephemeral and embodied experiences. What I hope is that the dance and performance practices of this project become a language of documentation, a system of communicating and socialising knowledge and ideas about non-conforming genders and sexualities, and a means of creating experimental queer communities.

Val Smith in performance


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Photo of Uzoamaka Nwankpa

Uzoamaka Nwankpa

Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2015

The 2015 Caroline Plummer Dance fellow is United States-based Uzoamaka Nwankpa who, as a result of an interest stemming from her career as a community health nurse, is planning to use the fellowship to engage in a mother-child dance project.

“As a community health nurse, working in the field of mothers and babies, I have observed the positive impact music and dance has on overall wellbeing.”

She plans to address prenatal and post-partum mood disorders as part of her dance project. Through focus groups, community dance sessions and a performance/art installation, she hopes to raise awareness about these serious conditions.

“I believe in Caroline Plummer’s vision and embody a great deal of passion for dance as a healing resource. Music and dance truly supports my Hauora; spiritual (te taha wairua), psychological (te taha hinengaro), physical (te taha tinana) and family health (te taha whanau) in ways that I aspire to share with the world using a multidisciplinary approach,” says Uzoamaka.

October and November 2015


A conversation with Healthcare Providers

As part of the Maternal-Child Community Dance Project, Uzo will be engaging the Dunedin Healthcare Providers in a conversation to learn more about the wellbeing of mothers and babies during the prenatal and postnatal timeframe. She will also be presenting her observations and experiences of the project at the Queen Mary Maternity Centre on October 14th 2015.

More information about the conversation with Healthcare Providers

Open Cast Workshops for the production "I am Here, We are Here”

These begin on October 14th on Wednesdays at 5:30pm and Fridays at noon. No dance experience required.

More information about the open cast workshops for "I am Here, We are Here"


Uzo will install the last part of her project, a community dance performance, "I am Here, We are Here", during the Moving Communities International Conference. A special feature of the conference will be the Reunion of the 10 recipients of the Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance who will also be the keynote speakers.

Website for Moving Communities International Conference

"I am Here, We are Here"

Is a performance by the 2015 Caroline Plummer Community Dance Fellow Uzo Nwankpa and Dunedin community members. Directed by Jessica Paipeta Latton.

Wed 25 November 2015, 5:30pm–6:30pm
Allen Hall Theatre, 90 Union Street East, Dunedin

Bringing African music and dance as mental, spiritual and physical medicine for wellbeing, Uzo Nwankpa works with community members to tackle the grief of postnatal isolation, depression and anxiety due to hormone changes and lack of support. With live music, text and choreography, I am Here, We are Here, is a tribal celebration of the power of motherhood, sisterhood, dance and community.

This is a part of the Moving Communities Conference on 25-28 November 2015 hosted by the School of Physical Education, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Flier for I am here we are here


Maternal-Child Community Dance Project
A conversation with Healthcare Providers

Wednesday, 14 October, 1.30pm-2.30pm
Queen Mary Maternity Centre, Dunedin

The aim of this research study is to explore the effect of community dance on the Hauora of new mothers and their family in Dunedin.

Health care providers event poster


Community Theatre and Dance
Open casting workshops and performance

Are you a parent that would like to share your story of conception, pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum parenting with the community in performance?

Come along to the open casting workshop for the upcoming production "I am Here, We are Here" (created by Uzo Nwankpa and directed by Jessica Latton)

Workshop dates and times, starting Wednesday, 14 October

  • Wednesdays: 5.30pm-7pm
  • Fridays: 12 noon-1.30pm
  • Two Saturdays before noon, TBA

University of Otago School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences
Dance Studio, 665 Cumberland Street

Community open cast workshops flyer

August and September 2015

Mother and child community classes were held at the Wakari Halfway Bush play group and the Dunedin Parents Centre.

Wakari Halfway Bush classes flyer

Dunedin Parents Centre flyer

West African Drum & Dance Workshop with Uzo Nwankpa

Saturday 19 September, 1pm-3pm
283 Princes Street, Dunedin

This 2-hour percussion and movement workshop provided the opportunity to experience the healing power of the ancient African rhythms with a unique style of guided facilitation using ritual practices, songs, drumming and dancing from Nigeria and West Africa.

For more information:

Poster for Drum and Dance workshop

June to August 2015


Uzo spent time getting to know the Dunedin community and beyond as well as engaging with the media.

July and August, Community classes

Afrobeats- This is a blend of traditional African dance with current popular dances including African Hip Hop, Afro House, reggae, soukous and coupe decalé. All levels welcome. It's party time.
Wednesdays at 4pm-5:10 pm for 8 weeks.

Aphrodisiac - Come in and explore ways to connect to your inner sensuality with the use of stretches, strutting and playful hip movements becoming more self aware and empowered.
Fridays at noon-1pm

Community dance classes flyer

April 2015

Uzo is a dance facilitator, choreographer, educator, researcher and an advocate for healing through music and dance. She is a community health registered nurse connecting her passion in the power of indigenous music and dance with community health nursing.

As the 2015 recipient of the Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance, Uzo is exploring the effect music and dance has on expectant and postpartum mothers. As a part of her Maternal and Child Dance project in NZ, she will facilitate community dance sessions as well as a community informed performance addressing the effects of mental disturbances in the prenatal and postpartum timeframe.

“As a community health nurse, working in the field of mothers and babies, I have observed the positive impact music and dance have on overall wellbeing. I plan to address prenatal and postpartum mood disorders as part of my dance project. Through focus groups, community dance sessions and a performance/art installation, I hope to raise awareness about prenatal and postpartum mood disturbances all across the world through the use of the arts.

“I believe in Caroline Plummer’s vision and embody a great deal of passion for dance as a healing resource. Music and dance truly supports my Hauora; spiritual (te taha wairua), psychological (te taha hinengaro), physical (te taha tinana) and family health (te taha whanau) in ways that I aspire to share with the world using a multidisciplinary approach.”

Uzo is originally from Enugu, Nigeria, West Africa and migrated to the United States of America as a teenager. She is creating a venue for healthcare providers to facilitate healing through music and dance using her knowledge of western nursing education, her indigenous practices from home, and other non-western knowledge acquired along her journey.

As a first generation Nigerian woman residing in the United States of America, Uzo has created diverse ways to preserve her culture through innovative workshops, presentations, speaking engagements and performances. She is an advocate for the medical humanities and arts in the medical world aiding in the awareness of self healing though dance.

Uzo's website

Current Projects: Kopatapata

"I have been invited to join one of the Māori culture ambassadors and original Atamira Dance Company founding members, Jack Gray in 'Kopatapata Phase III' in May 2015 (a new full length work premiering in Auckland on Oct 1 - 3, 2015). " (See details below.)

In the words of Jack Gray,"This phase is all about the kick out of the womb. Let there be life. It is a willing and welling of gestation and power as we emerge into our first BREATH." It will include a 5 day workshop with company members.

About Kopatapata from Jack Gray's website

'Global practices of cultural regeneration, metamorphosis and transformation, Kopatapata, transition of light through water, convergence of elemental forces, vibrational healing, divinity and power. Binding oceans and land, Mitimiti in the Northern Hokianga to Tokomaru Bay on the East Coast, with other spaces. The work investigates dimensions of whakapapa (genealogy) and contemporary culture. Making new things from the past, crafting creative process as a vehicle to map deep cellular and sensual experiences. Dynamic differences meet ongoing tensions of similarities, enabling exploration of the ‘theatre', as a ‘vivid place of questioning’ .Unleashing a ‘deep sense of knowing’ to the world. Vitalising essence of the ancient, ancestral, spiritual and unseen. Narrating new ways to see, create and develop future knowledge bases. Describing, encapsulating reflections and experiences of living in dance.'

World Premiere by Atamira Dance Company in Auckland, New Zealand, October 1-3, 2015

Jack Gray's website

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Photo of Louise Potiki Bryant

Louise Potiki Bryant (Ngāi Tahu)

Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2014

Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance 2014 recipient Louise Potiki Bryant says she feels honoured and grateful to be chosen for the Fellowship.

“Caroline Plummer’s vision for this fellowship was very special, with a kaupapa that really resonates with me,” Louise says.

“It aims to ‘enable anyone with a talent and a passion for dance, to further develop their dance work; that it might inspire education, healing and peace in our community’.”

As an award-winning Māori choreographer, Louise has created works for the Atamira Dance Company, Curve and the Black Grace Dance Company and more. Of Ngāi Tahu descent, Louise grew up in Dunedin, obtained a degree in Māori Studies from the University of Otago, a degree in Performing and Screen Arts from Auckland’s Unitec, and in 2003 she was Ngāi Tahu Artist In Residence at the Otago Polytechnic.

“The dance project I’ve planned for the Fellowship is called ‘WHAKAAHUA – coming to form’. I aim to create and share resources about a dance practice I’ve developed, in collaboration with Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, and inspired by the concept known as whakaahua.”

Louise adds that ‘Whakaahua’ is a central theme in the dance and haka of the traditional whare tapere – pre-European pā-based ‘houses’ of storytelling, dance, music, and games. It is the process by which a quality in the natural world emerges from deep within an individual dancer to eventually find its fullest expression in the performance of the haka or dance.

The project includes a series of wananga (workshops) at Ōtākou Marae on the Otago Peninsula, which will culminate in a whare tapere performance in June 2014, during the rising of the star Puaka and the star cluster Matariki. Louise also plans weekly Whakaahua and Nohopuku (meditation) classes, talks and workshops to be held at the University.

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Whakaahua: Coming to Form

2 August 2014

An informal presentation and film showing by Louise Potiki Bryant and collaborators about Whakaahua: Coming to Form, a community dance project for the Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance 2014.poster for whakaahua-coming to form

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From Louise, September 2014

My time as the Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2014, at the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences, began in February this year.

The community dance project I undertook for the fellowship was entitled Whakaahua: Coming to Form, and my aim was to share a dance practice called Whakaahua Dance.

Whakaahua Dance is inspired by performances of the historical whare tapere (house of entertainment), whereby a quality, or aspect, of the natural world emerges from deep within a dancer to eventually find its fullest expression in the performance of the dance. 

My aim was to share this practice with my whānau and local members of Kai Tahu whānui, as a somatic and choreographic tool and to create resource booklets and DVDs for our whānau to assist in the development of performances about our local stories in the future.

I also wanted to share what I’ve learnt about the whare tapere from researcher and composer Prof Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal.

Leading up to the Whakaahua: Coming to Form project was a collaboration between myself and Prof Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal. Our collaboration spanned more than eight years during which time we held wānaka (workshops) to develop new dance and haka based on Charles’s research into the whare tapere.

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Whare tapere

Whare tapere are pā based houses of storytelling, dance, music and games. The spirit and purpose of the whare tapere is encapsulated by the following expression: “Kia kawea tatou e te rehia” - “Let us be taken by the spirit of joy and entertainment”.

I learnt from Charles that unfortunately whare tapere largely fell into disuse following the shift of our people from pā villages to the new townships. Despite this, Charles points out that a lot of information has been retained about whare tapere, and many artists around the country are creating new art inspired by the activities of the historical whare tapere.

Charles classifies the various activities which occurred in the whare tapere into the following groups:

  • Ngā Waiata – songs and singing
  • Ngā Kōrero – stories and storytelling
  • Ngā Haka – dance and dancing
  • Ngā Taonga Pūoro - musical instruments
  • Ngā Taonga-a-Wharawhara – body adornments
  • Ngā Tākaro – games and other amusements

My focus is on the haka and dance aspect of the whare tapere, however I have an interest in integrating all of these activities as part of the creative process such as integrating tākoro (games) into the dance training.

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The Whakaahua: Coming to Form Project

At the core of the Whakaahua: Coming to Form Project was a series of wānaka held at Ōtākou Marae. 

For the first wānaka Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal flew in from Tāmaki Makaurau to share with us his research into the whare tapere. This first wānaka was also an introduction to the whare tapere, an introduction to some of the tākoro of the whare tapere and an introduction to some of the  Whakaahua Dance exercises.

The second wānaka at Ōtākou Marae focused on our relationship with the whenua. Moana Wesley led us on a walk to the kaik - the area where she lives - near the marae.  Moana spoke about the history of the area, including the old pā site.  We stayed overnight at the marae with haka practice in the evening.  In the mornings I led a nohopuku (meditation) practice, and in the afternoon we developed a haka inspired by the whenua and the history shared with us by Moana Wesley.

Te Motutapu-o-Tinirau

For the third wānaka we wove together our performance piece Te Motutapu-o-Tinirau - inspired by a key story associated with the whare tapere, the story of Tinirau and Kae.

My close friend and playwright Rua McCallum, was a mentor and collaborator during the devising of the performance Te Motutapu-o-Tinirau and she composed the waiata Whakaika Nei for the work and the rangi (tune) was developed by Rua alongside Moana Wesley.

The premiere performance of Te Motutapu-o-Tinirau was to an audience of nearly 200 at Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, as part of the Puaka Matariki Festival. Taoka Pūoro player Al Fraser traveled from Wellington to play live, and Hans Van Leeuwen blessed us with his beautiful lighting which made the work magical. Paddy Free also contributed his music to the work.

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Whakaika Nei

In addition to the performance, I made a short dance film called Whakaika Nei in collaboration with University of Otago Mozart Fellow 2014 Jeremy Mayall. The film features a performance by one of the participants of the project - the beautiful and talented Jessica Latton. Jeremy  Mayall composed the soundtrack for the film and the music features vocals by Rua McCallum and taoka pūoro by Horomona Horo.

Alongside the wānaka at Ōtākou we also rehearsed on Saturdays with dance and tākoro workshops for the participants and their whānau at the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences. In addition I held weekly community dance classes combining nohopuku improvisation, and Whakaahua Dance exercises. A lovely group of dancers came regularly to these classes each week, including the previous Caroline Plummer Fellow - Hahna Briggs. The regular attendees of these community dance classes also became performers in Te Motutapu-o-Tinirau as well.

In addition to the weekly Whakaahua Dance classes I also held weekly community Iyengar Yoga classes at the University.

There were twenty four participants involved in the performance including tamariki. Several more than this also came along to the three wānaka at Ōtākou Marae and to the weekly classes.  They were all so generous in giving their time and energy to the project, and a joy to work with.

During my time as the Caroline Plummer Fellow I also gave several presentations, seminars, and workshops both at the University and in the wider community, and I held several workshops about the whare tapere in local schools.

As my fellowship neared its end, I reflected on what a very special time it had been for me, I am hugely grateful for having had this opportunity and for the tautoko of everyone involved. I have come away from this fellowship with a greater appreciation of the effect of dance as a healing process for our communities.

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Photo of Hahna Briggs

Hahna Briggs

Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2013

Hahna Briggs says winning the Fellowship was always one of her personal goals and she is delighted to have achieved it. She has danced in performances by two previous Caroline Plummer Fellows - Suzanne Cowan's 'House of Memories' (2010), and Lyne Pringle's 'Ocean Wave' (2011).

“The Caroline Plummer Fellowship emphasises the many connections between dance and the community. It removes dance from the 'stage', as something that is unattainable to most people, and reminds us that dance actually interweaves with community, culture and society, and is something all people can actively engage in,” she says.

Hahna has a Bachelor of Physical Education (Otago), a Postgraduate Diploma in Rehabilitation (Massey) and a Masters in Dance Studies (Otago). Her works include: dancer for “Done to Perfection ', Weave Movement Theatre, Victoria, Australia (2012); and “Dances About Love” (2011) in collaboration with local dance practitioner Lisa Wilkinson.

Recent article by Hahna

Briggs, H., & Kolb, A. & Miyahara, M. 2012. Able as Anything. Integrated Dance Performance in New Zealand. Brolga: An Australian Journal about Dance 37. Available online on the Ausdance website.


August 2013

Interplay poster

Hahna Briggs, the 2013 Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance, School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences presents:

INTER-PLAY: Dances about Support

Community dance workshop and dance performance

1.30pm – 2.30pm
3pm – 4pm

Sunday 25th August
South Dunedin Community Hall, 261 King Edward Street, South Dunedin

You may come to one event or both events. There is no cost, however koha is welcome.

Hahna’s Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance will culminate in an afternoon of dance open to all

From 1.30pm – 2.30pm Hahna will run an open community dance workshop

In this workshop you will get a taste of the various movement explorations Hahna has been teaching in her creative movement classes.

From 3pm – 4pm Hahna will showcase three short integrated performances

Integrated performance includes dancers with a diverse range of embodiments, including people with disabilities. Two of the performances will be performed by people attending Hahna's creative movement classes and will demonstrate various exercises practised in these classes.

The third performance will be by a small group of support workers and carers who have been meeting with Hahna once a week over the past few months. In their performance the dancers portray improvisational and choreographic responses to four transcribed interviews. Hahna interviewed four people in the community who each work (or have worked) with a different population: young people, Queer students, people with disabilities, and older people in retirement villages.

Hahna says:

"In my fellowship I place a strong emphasis on building a strong and creative ‘temporary’ community with those I dance with. I am inspired by Caroline’s writing, “There is huge potential for dance to play an active and stimulating role in the development of ourselves, not only as individuals but also within the dynamic process that is 'community'."

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Photo of Lyne Pringle

Lyne Pringle

Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2011

November 2011

For the Caroline Plummer Fellowship – Community Dance I found a poem Caroline had written about finding solace in the ocean (St Kilda and St Clair beaches) and used this as a theme for my project.

The St Kilda Brass Band, Forbury School, Barbara and Graeme Newton (local author of the history of St Clair and president of the St Clair Surf Lifesaving Club respectively) all said yes to the project.

Remaining true to the poem, I undertook a seven-month residency in the St Clair and St Kilda communities.

There were two waves, or phases to, the project.

  • Phase 1 - St Kilda/St Clair Project and Forbury School residency

For five months I spent three days a week at Forbury School working on dance with 145 pupils and their teachers exploring oceanic themes and finding ways to express this in movement – this was my ‘home base’. In term two the entire school embraced this topic across all aspects of the curriculum – the whole school was moving and learning in an oceanic way.

  • Phase 2 - Ocean Wave Project

The community concert Ocean Wave, held on September 2nd 2011, brought together the other threads the project. From the beginning I knew I wanted to facilitate a celebratory event that would involve a lot of people, in a stylish venue and bring together many threads of the chosen community.  The Forbury kids, resplendent in their Ocean Wave tee shirts, sat through the entire Ocean Wave concert. Their item was last and in the end it felt as if the entire project was for these diverse 15 children, many of whom had never danced before, been in a theatre, or even seen a brass band.

The looks on their ecstatic faces in the curtain call and the tears in the eyes of many audience members said it all.

Simply beautiful!

Ocean Wave Lyne with dancers

'Ocean Wave' dancers with Lyne (Photo Courtesy of the Otago Daily Times)

Ocean Wave children with flags

'Ocean Wave' dancers with flags

ocean wave poster


Lyne Pringle in Lament for Species Lost

Lyne Pringle has over 30 years of experience working as a dance/theatre artist in New Zealand, Australia and New York and is deeply committed to the development of New Zealand performing arts.

She says "this fellowship and the provocation that it offers for dance to enhance a sense of community has been an invaluable addition to the dance industry in New Zealand.  I am grateful for the fellowship's vision that dance might inspire education, healing, and peace in our community."

Lyne has produced over 30 dance works including She, Kilt, Fishnet and Lily which premiered in April 2009 and last year Living Arrangements for Footnote Dance Company. Her works have been performed all over New Zealand, receiving numerous awards including the Supreme award for excellence in Choreography, Performance & Production for Fishnet at the Tempo festival in 2006. In 2003 she formed Bipeds Productions, most recently forming partnerships with particular communities to create celebratory performances.

Lyne Pringle in Lily

As the Caroline Plummer community dance fellow at Otago University in 2011 she will refine her community dance vision to createSt Kilda and St Clair. This dance will explore the relationship that local residents have with these two Dunedin beaches. She will form partnerships with Forbury School and the St Kilda Brass Band to present a performance in early September at the Kings and Queens Auditorium. It will incorporate performers from the St Kilda and St Clair community.

To follow the project:

For more information on Lyne:

Photo 1: Lyne in 'Lament for Species Lost'
Photo 2: : Lyne in 'Lily'


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Photo of Suzanne Cowan

Suzanne Cowan

Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2010

With her Caroline Plummer Fellowship in Community Dance, Auckland performer and choreographer Suzanne Cowan plans to choreograph a dance project from the perspective of people with visual impairments.

Working with the Dunedin sight-impaired community and students from Dance Studies, she plans to use the media of dance, photography, video and sound to create a "vision for dance as a means of embracing diversity and difference."

The planned finished work will involve a performance at the university and in a Dunedin community arts space, a website designed for people with visual impairments, and an academic research paper for publication based on the project's findings.

"I am thrilled and honoured to be the next recipient of the Caroline Plummer Fellowship," she says.

"It is a wonderful opportunity to develop something really unique in an exciting part of the country. It is also an opportunity to build on my choreographic experience and take it in a whole new direction."

She says her interest in the creative possibilities inherent within physical and sensory impairment stems from her own experience of living with a spinal injury and using a wheelchair.

Ms Cowan received First Class Honours upon completing her Master of Creative and Performing Arts degree from University of Auckland in 2009. She also worked for an international mixed ability dance company 'Candoco' for three and a half years touring internationally (from 2000 - 2003).

'House of Memories' - Performances 2 & 3 July 2010

House of Memories was a kinaesthetic, aural and visual performance directed by this year’s Caroline Plummer Dance Fellow, Suzanne Cowan. Audiences experienced a sensory dance journey through a series of vignettes representing the unique world of people with visual impairments. The performances were on the 2nd and 3rd of July at 551 Castle St as part of the Tertiary Dance Festival at Otago University.house_of_memories_poster

Visitors to the Castle St villa were led through seven performance installations, to experience a slice of the performers’ lives: the high speed technological sound equipment of a blind man juxtaposed with a graceful duet derived from guiding techniques; a woman’s passion for wool-handling explored as a gestural solo and the precious memories of a man’s ballroom dancing days brought to life with a live band. The audience also experienced a maze navigated entirely through sound and texture.

Each room’s intimate story was an expression of home and told through a variety of mediums including voice and sound recordings, dance and photography.

House of Memories was the culmination of Cowan’s fellowship project for 2010. The Fellowship, hosted by the Department of Physical Education at Otago University, focuses on community dance and developing awareness of cultural diversity. As a dancer/choreographer, Cowan has worked in mixed ability dance both nationally and internationally for the past ten years. In 2008 she was the recipient of the Art Award and Supreme Award for the NZ Attitude Awards for people with disabilities. Her most recent piece for the mixed ability, Touch Compass Dance Company, ‘Grotteschi’ (2008) was described by Auckland dance reviewer, Bernadette Rae, as winning her “My Most Memorable Work of the Year prize”.

"Dance: Another ingredient in the mix"

Download article by Francesca Horsley, New Zealand Listener , August 21, 2010 (PDF, 78 KB)

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Sean Curham

Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2009


Sean Curham

Four Legs Better Than Two – dogs, dance and community

'Four Legs Better Than Two' is a community arts project based on the experiences of dog walking. Reflecting the diversity of this community a number of small and medium sized projects have looked to capture the experiences of 'walking the dog'. Key to the project is participation – and so the main event has been many, many shared walks. And yes, I have a dog – her name is Tippy. Alongside these walks have been numerous smaller events – some light-hearted - “Good dog, bad man”, “Dog Park Karaoke” and “Commune” - a project being developed in collaboration with the Dance Studies programme.

Over the last few years I have been looking for opportunities to shift my work from a theatre/gallery context into the 'real' community. This reflects my changing interests and desire to explore more directly the value of ideas in a practical way. It also reflects a change in focus from producing 'things' – artefacts or performance events to an interest in participation. The fellowship has presented the ideal opportunity to work directly within the community. I believe that the knowledge and experience of the community represents an unequalled resource and provides the ideal site for experimentation and the development of ideas.

This will be a challenging project – I am always working away on questions to do with the body and movement. Central to the work is an engagement with the critical and philosophical ideas that question the way in which we come to 'know' or experience the world.

Proposed within the project is the idea that there is a relationship between the potential of dance and the shape and activities of the dog walking community. It is suggested that dog walkers share a unique experience of place and time – and that this experience is manifest in the fluid and ever changing network that is the dog walking community.

The final event for the project will be on Friday 31 July, in the School of Physical Education. All the stories and records will be presented as an installation and will include “Dog Park Karaoke” a light-hearted interactive game designed to make the dogs the stars of the show.

Final Report, January 2009

“Four Legs Better Than Two” – a dance in the community project based on the experiences of dog walking
The primary strategy employed to realize this project was to participate in the existing activities of the dog walking community and through this engage with the community to realize a creative event.

“Four Legs” was designed to enable participation at many levels – from a 'one off' contribution to a more sustained involvement. Some of the participations points included discussion boards, a dog diary/blog, and ‘one off’ interviews.

This dissemination strategy aimed to introduce the core ideas of the project to the wider dog walking community – and to start a broad process of reflection/participation as to what dog walking offers socially, creatively and critically.

In essence this project explored the idea that dog walking presents new experiences – and that due to the participation of the walker – the fact that the walker is generating or encountering these new events through being active, a new and creative perception is encountered. The suggestion is that this unrestrained experiencing brings forward potential that can alter the way in which community, creativity and art can be further explored.

For a more detailed final report and access to the dog diary/blog and other aspects of the project go to:


The future

“Four Legs” represents a major shift of focus from making for theatres and galleries to seriously considering the potential for work based in the community. Since completing “Four Legs” I have finished another community situated work, “One” a collaboration with the Auckland Old Folks Association (Auckland's original provider of support services for the older person) as part of the Heritage Festival. The work was in four parts and incorporated the oral histories of the last eight members of the Association. Other events included a video wall – a season of performance works and collaboration with thirty eight local businesses. The success of this event and the compounding of ideas from “Four Legs” has further affirmed my interest in community based work.

I'm now planning a number of future events – which includes participating in the 'Living Room Project' with Auckland City, a reworking of 'Commune' for the Blue Oyster Gallery in Dunedin a project with Selwyn Village (a community for the older person), another with the community of an entire street in West Auckland, a dog park work in Pt Chevalier and the development of 'Sensational' a work situated both in the community and theatres for 2011.

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Barbara Snook

Barbara Snook

Caroline Plummer fellow in Community Dance 2008

I am a Brisbane High School teacher and have taught dance and drama in an educational context for the past seventeen years. I am also involved in the dance education community as District Panel Chair, co-chair of the Ausdance Educators Network Queensland and as an independent dance education consultant running dance festivals and work-shopping with primary school teachers. I have written four dance text books for use in primary and secondary schools. I was the recipient of an Osmotherley Award for my contribution to the development of dance education in Queensland in 2007.

My project in community dance involves movement workshops with the cancer community, those diagnosed, in remission, bereaved, or a close family or friend of a person with cancer. The idea is that the workshops may allow those affected by cancer to take control of their lives by expressing themselves through movement. Emotional and physical pain are closely linked. Allowing the expression of emotion through movement explores the different levels of being human and provides opportunities for growth of the spirit and soul. The dancers will perform for the wider community on Sunday June 29th at 2 p.m. at the Art Gallery and again on Sunday 17th August at 3 p.m.

Having lost a daughter and husband in the past eighteen months to cancer, I have combined the experience of these losses with my ability to facilitate movement workshops. I am passionate about the power of dance to communicate beyond what many people are able to express verbally. I am delighted with the opportunity offered by the Fellowship as it allows me to follow my creative passion and share it with others. In this way an understanding and appreciation of the power of dance will grow within the wider community.

Reflections on an amazing six months

Barbara Snook

Barbara Snook movement story

I was very conscious that I was being given an opportunity that many people could only dream about when I started my fellowship and I was determined to make the most of every moment. What a joy it was. I felt nothing but total support from the University, particularly the School of Physical Education, and also from the wider Dunedin community. Dunedin seemed to be the perfect place in which to conduct my project with the cancer community, big enough to be dynamic and exciting yet small enough to be supportive and personal.

My work with the adult participants from the cancer community resulted in a shift in the lives of all who were touched by it; the dancers, the visual artists who worked alongside us and the audiences. This project involved a collaboration with Sue Wootten, the Burns Fellow and Chris Watson the Mozart Fellow. A documentary was commissioned and has been beautifully crafted to capture the essence of the project.

I wrote a children’s book Come Dance with Me, about death and the healing power of dance. Bill O’Brien, the 2008 Writer-in-Residence at the University of Otago’s College of Education edited the book for me and it has since been published. Pauline Bellamy, who worked as an artist alongside the adult dance project, illustrated the book with beautiful soft water-colours. It is available at the University Bookshop. The book was also used for young people from Canteen to perform a movement story to in public performances.

Barbara Snook dancing in the cathedral

The positive energy surrounding my project allowed me to achieve many other works. I gave talks to various organisations and danced in St Paul’s Cathedral as well as other other churches. I did some co-lecturing with Ali East on the Community Dance paper and worked with many of the students on the course to choreograph and perform Hikoi a response to McFarlane’s Hikoi installation of walking sticks in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. I gave workshops to primary teachers on teaching dance and worked with young students in schools.

I was delighted with the flow-on effect my project had with the wider community. Cancer touches many families and for this reason, and the way it was dealt with through art, it created interest. The collaborations with the other Arts Fellows and with the visual artists who held successful exhibitions allowed the project to touch many people.



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Katrina Rank

Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2007

Dr Katrina Rank is Education and Training Manager with Ausdance Victoria. She trained as a classical dancer at the Australian Ballet School and peformed professionally in Australia and the United Kingdom.

During her tenure as Fellow, Katrina conducted a project entitled 'My Body is an Etching'. The aim of the project was to develop a solo dance work, for unrained dancers, that reveals a person's history in a way that can only be articulated by the moving body. She worked with different community groups, ranging in age and ability, establishing three separate classes that met regularly during her tenure.

'The Body's Canvas', DANZ Quarterly, Issue no. 10, December 2007

Katrina Rank, 'Considerations for the Choreographic Treatment of Personal Movement Vocabulary in Community Dance Practice', in Dance Dialogues: Conversations across cultures, artforms and practices, 2009 (PDF)

'Research Profile - Community Dance', Otago Bulletin, Issue no. 15, 2007, p. 9 (PDF, 262 KB)

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Georgina White

Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2006

Georgina White is a researcher at Te Papa, with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and a Bachelor of Performance and Screen Arts in dance. A professional dancer, she has performed with the Footnote Dance Company.

During her tenure as the Fellow, Georgina continued her research and conducted interviews in and around the area for her book Light Fantastic : Dance Floor Courtship in New Zealand : Dance Floor Courtship in New Zealand. The book was published in 2007.

Book Description of Light Fantastic by Harper Collins Publishers (NZ) Ltd.

Book Review of Light Fantastic, DANZ Quarterly, Issue no. 9, October 2007

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Petra Kuppers

Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance 2005

Petra Kuppers is a community artist, disability-culture activist and scholar. She is an associate professor of English at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she teachers courses in disability culture, community performance and performance studies.

During her tenure as Fellow, Petra focussed on facilitating dance in New Zealand both internally and internationally. She ran a large number of community dance workshops in different venues and with many different participants. Some of these included the Otago Community Hospice, the Cancer Society, local libraries and day care centres, the Disabled Persons Assembly, Dunedin.

Details of her project can be found in the following articles.

"Dance of Life", University of Otago Magazine, Issue 12, October 2005, pp.30-31 (PDF, 1.5MB)

Petra Kuppers,"Dancing Stories: A Community Dance Residency in a Hospice in NZ", Environmental Communication, Vol. 2, no. 3, November 2008, pp. 274-280 (PDF, 90KB)


Otago Fellows University of Otago