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/rītaha/ - Touch Compass's 25th Anniversary Celebration

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**Our 100 person capacity has been reached, as per the red traffic light guidelines, but fear not! We will also be live streaming the entire evening. Please register for this free live stream spectacular!

Join Touch Compass as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary on 15 February 2022 in Tāmaki Makaurau for an exciting evening of groundbreaking performance honouring the past, present and future: /rītaha/.

/rītaha is a performing arts festival of digital works, tactile installations, improvised and choreographed dance, innovative theatre and thrilling aerial performance, showcasing fantastic emerging and established artists, and new work from our multi-award-winning Artistic Direction Panel Lusi Faiva, Rodney Bell and Suzanne Cowan.

/rītaha/ aims to honour accessibility as well as art. The event will have sign language interpretation and live audio description. Any income from /rītaha/ will be put towards developing our emerging artists programme in 2022.

General Manager of Touch Compass, Jon Tamihere-Kemeys, says, "It's an exciting opportunity to reconnect the whānau of Touch Compass and give a platform for extraordinary artists."

Ka mua ka muri: Walking backwards into the future

/rītaha/ celebrates the past, heralding Touch Compass’s future, integrating multidisciplinary work into Touch Compass's programming, inviting disabled and non-disabled artists from other creative disciplines into the Touch Compass korowai.

Founding member Rodney Bell says “I was introduced to dance through Catherine Chappell - Founding Artistic Director, in the early 90s and become a founding performing artist for Touch Compass Dance Company. The experiences with Touch Compass always enhance the artist I am today, a movement voice I wouldn't have without Catherine and Touch Compass. I now envision to pass on the mana/power that I've learnt to emulate what Touch Compass has done for me. Touch Compass has captured and enhanced many artists who identify through the lens of disability and I’m so proud to be one of them. Ka Mau te Wehi Touch Compass.”

/rītaha/ means to lean on one's side, in Te Reo Māori

Rītaha describes the action disabled people take to be part of society. Touch Compass celebrates the true meaning of tangata mana whaikaha - people of power and presence pursuing strength. We break down physical and psychological barriers so all people who have a passion for the arts have a platform to express it, bringing together Pasifika, Māori and disability-led artistry.

Touch Compass would like to acknowledge the generous support of Creative New Zealand, Auckland Council and Auckland Live, without which this event would not be possible.


Thread Count
A textile art installation that explores the lived experiences of the disabled and chronically ill, Thread Count embeds their realities as poetry into a forest of soft sculpture, and invites the community to immerse themselves within a chorus of these stories.
The space is based heavily in the tactile and in sensation with large drops of fabric cascading down around it. The installation will be built almost entirely with fabric and thread, and sewn by hand, giving the attention and detail to every strand embroidered into the work.
Thread Count is for the Auckland community of disabled and chronically ill, to bring us together to meet in soft spaces which reflect our unique disabled experiences.

Holly Mercer - Performer / Sarah Cooper-Slee - Stitcher / Lizzie WInders - Producer

Knotty Entities
A site-specific rope installation work in which performance artists Suzanne Cowan and Emilia Rubio build a series of moving rope installations as a study of restriction, desire, connectivity and knotty entanglements.
Inspired by the art of Shibari, Japanese rope tying, Rubio and Cowan shape a series of rope architectures exploring the relationship between tension and release, folding, unfolding, verticality and horizontality, anchoring and suspension.

Suzanne Cowan, Emilia Rubio - Performers

**New Films
Bodies of Water
Bodies of Water is a short film that explores the experience of moving through the world differently. Delving into movement and medium, it embraces metaphor through imagery, sound and the poetics of the body. Through distortions, reflections and obstructions of water the piece examines how our environment dictates how we move, see, hear and feel.

Imogen Zino - Creator/actor

i-waenga is a collection of short films in which seven artists from Aotearoa and New Zealand respond to the theme of time and space from their own perspective of indigenous time, disabled time and everything in-between. Celebrating the connection between these perspectives, this work encourages new understandings of the body through sound installation, digital poetry and stop motion animation.

Tusiata Avia, Grace Taylor, Amy Blinkhorne, thecornycousin, Forest V Kapo, AJ FATA, AM Kanngieser - Creators / Producers

Something Strange This Way Comes

It’s seems like just another cloud-covered day in Aotearoa - until we discover that the world has been taken over by zombies that feed on the flesh of hearing people!

Creator and Director, Jared Flitcroft / Producer Corey Le Vaillant

**Performance Installation


Wai/Rua signifies the two waters of Crip time (disability time) and disability consciousness which shapes this performance installation. Wai/Rua draws from our 8 artists’ lived experience of rest and rejuvenation as it dives deep into the subterranean world of crip time. It engages our artists’ processes of dreaming into new realities in a dual format of virtual space and live performance space. The site specific work will be simultaneously on-stage in the venue and live-streamed from around the world with our international performers. It is accompanied by live music.  Wai/Rua brings the private space of our horizontal lives into the public space of performance and is simultaneously a reflection on our lock-down experiences: a new experience for most non-disabled people but a familiar experience for people with access needs.
Dancers- Duncan Armstrong, Julie van Renen, Sierra Diprose, Yung Chen, Susanne Bentley (Brussels), Sumara Fraser (Wellington), Georgie Goater
(Helsinki), Joel Forman (Christchurch), Jenny Newstead (Dunedin), Laura
Stewart (Wellington) / Lewis McCallum - DJ

**Staged performance

Taupou is a traditional (siva) Samoan dance with grace and power. This public performance piece investigates the symbolism and beauty standards within the role of the taupou. The taupou is the ceremonial hostess selected by the village chief to elevate the formal reception of visitors to a village or place. This is Lusi's piece, bringing her own unique style to a performance with a deep connection to her Samoan heritage. Taupou was first performed as part of Cuba Dupa in 2021.

Lusi Faiva, Sierra Diprose, Julie van Renen - Dancers

**Installation Performance
Knotty Entities
A dance work by Suzanne Cowan and Emilia Rubio in which they integrate themselves into their rope work installation piece.

The Air Between Us
Multi-award winning disabled artist Rodney Bell and critically acclaimed choreographer Chloe Loftus present The Air Between Us, an aerial event that has been captivating audiences across Aotearoa. Spiraling into the air, this counterweighted duet celebrates equality and connection.
The Air Between Us explores a meeting point; between two bodies in space, in perfect equilibrium, crossing boundaries of culture, creativity and play. Arriving at this place from diverse backgrounds and experiences, Chloe and Rodney explore our innate capacity to exist in symbiotic harmony. Like planets encircling around each other, magnetically pulled by each other’s energy, this is an inimitable and mesmerising performance.

Rodney Bell, Chloe Loftus - Creators/Performers / Tym Miller-White - Rigger



Duncan Armstrong is a professional dancer, actor and musician from Wellington. In March 2018 his solo show at the Auckland Fringe Festival won the Best Performance award. He has been a professional dancer with Touch Compass Dance Company since 2015, having worked with Touch Compass since the late 1990s. His 2016 film Drumming Is Like Thunder was invited to international film festivals, which won Most Original Film in the Sit Down, Shut Up and Watch Festival in Australia.

Rodney Bell has been dancing professionally since 1995, having started out as a Touch Compass founding member. Rodney has performed both nationally and internationally – winning an Isadora Dance Award while dancing in the US with Axis Dance Company. Rodney was also the winner of the Attitude Artistic Achievement Award, in 2016, and the Arts Access Aotearoa Artistic Achievement Award in 2017, and in early 2021 performed an encore New Zealand tour of his life story, Meremere.

Susanne Bentley is a contemporary dancer, improvisor, teacher, coach and choreographer. She has been working with others and on her own projects in New Zealand and Europe since 1996. In NZ she worked with companies such as Touch Compass, Opera NZ and Weta Productions (Peter Jackson- film), and was a founding member of Curve Dance Collective. In 2000 she was a danceWEB scholarshipholder at ImPulsTanz (Vienna). Since then she has performed with companies such as SUPERAMAS, Cie. Fabienne Berger, Les Ballets C de la B, Maria Clara Villa Lobos, Poni, Bal Moderne a.o.

Suzanne Cowan is an artist/choreographer/researcher and has been an associate artist with Touch Compass since 1999. Her most recent work was performed at Auckland Arts Festival this year with collaborator, Rodney Bell, in 'He Owha Matarua’ : a site specific performance at Piha that explores ecology and colonisation. She has just completed an independent film, ’Slippage’ to be screened later this year which builds on her solo autobiographical show “Manifesto of A Good Cripple’ which she produced and performed at the Basement Theatre in 2019. 'Knotty Entities' stems from her PhD research into rope and bodies as an expanded corporeality. Her PhD in Dance Studies, completed at the University of Auckland in 2018, brings a post humanist perspective to dis/abilty and performance and draws together her research into dance, disability, queer studies and feminist new materialism.

Sierra Diprose is a professional freelance dancer, creative and movement educator who went to UNITEC New Zealand and graduated with a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts majoring in Contemporary Dance. She has been in the industry for over 10 years and during that time has danced for renowned companies and choreographers including Malia Johnston, Sarah Foster-Sproull, Blackgrace, The New Zealand Dance Company and Touch Compass Dance Company. Sierra started The Creative Human Project in 2018 because she wanted to inspire and empower people to create, to embrace being unique, to give them confidence in themselves as an artist, and to be part of a community of movement artists.

Lusi Faiva, of Samoan and European descent, is an award-winning dancer and founding member of Touch Compass who has been performing for over 30 years. In 2020, Lusi won the Pacific Toa Award at the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards and the Spirit of Attitude Award category at the 2020 Attitude Awards, and the Arts Access PAK’nSAVE Artistic Achievement Award 2021.

Sumara Fraser is a freelance dancer, who has danced with the Footnote Dance Company, Touch Compass, Wellington Intergrated Dance and Judith Fuge Dance School.

Chloe Loftus is Italian born and New Zealand bred and emigrated to the UK in 1997 where she completed a BA (Hons) Dance Performance at Middlesex University. Alongside her extensive choreographic work, Chloe has worked internationally as a freelance dancer. She is co-director of Conscious Dance Aotearoa annual gathering.

Holly Mercer is an emerging disabled/chronically ill artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Holly has a passion for producing, and for arts festivals/events, spending two years as a producer for fringe theatre, short film and began writing her own work. Amongst her favourite work are two sell-out seasons of The Universe is Pretty Big and I'm Afraid of Sex (2018, 2019), producing Tom Clarke's most recent Auckland season of Perry (2020) in Akl Fringe and co-writing a pilot episode of a TV series Memory Boys (2020).

Emilia Rubio is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she was a Professional Dancer in contemporary dance for fourteen years, winning the Clarín Award for Best Dancer of the Year in Argentina - 2001 . Currently based in Auckland, Emilia joined Touch Compass as a dancer in 2008 and works as a performer and support tutor for the community class.
Dance/Movement Therapy is a big part of Emilia’s professional work and she has worked with Dance and Art Therapy NZ and currently with Māpura Studios leading as a Dance Therapist and created Authentic Living and Expressive Arts Therapy programmes for youth and adults. She’s currently working towards her PhD in Expressive Arts Therapy at University of Auckland.

Julie van Renen has been a dancer for Touch Compass since 2015 and co-teaches Touch Compass's Creative Class. She has been a freelance dancer and dance teacher since graduating from Unitec with a bachelor of performing and screen arts, majoring in contemporary dance, in 2003.

Susan WIlliams is an actor, improvisor, poet, pun champion and stand-up comedian, with twenty years of theatre experience. They were a finalist for the 2021 Arts Access Aotearoa PAK’nSAVE Artistic Achievement Award, and have appeared in more than 30 productions, including Celestial Nobodies (2020), Taking Off the Bird Suit (2014, 2016), and Blood Wedding (2010). 

Susan is functionally blind, Autistic, mentally ill, and a spoonie. They are passionate about inclusive, accessible theatre that pushes boundaries and changes perceptions. They are particularly proud of creating Galactapedia at NZIF, because it was fully accessible to Blind/VI audiences, and of working with Touch Compass to develop Illegally Blind.

Imogen Zino is a director, artist and design researcher based in Aotearoa. She creates unique and engaging experiences spanning from large scale multi-sensory sculptures to tiny objects. Her works are intuitive and tactile in nature, delving into the relationship between body, surface and environment. A background in digital, industrial, jewellery and textile design allows her to draw from a range of disciplines and create unique and engaging experiences.

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