In 1995, artistic director and choreographer Neil Ieremia founded the New Zealand-based Black Grace with ten male dancers of Pacific, Maori, and New Zealand heritage. As an artist, his initial interest was in visual art. However, he was ill as a child and couldn’t participate in the sports that really mark young New Zealand men as men. He was alone in his house, dancing to music before he even knew what dance was. Black Grace’s movement is drawn from, as Ieremia puts it: “traditional Maori and Samoan dance, western modern dance, but also the football field, construction site, and streets of New Zealand.” The company made its U.S. debut in 2004 at Jacob’s Pillow with an encore engagement the following year, and triumphantly returned in 2022 with new works including O Le Olaga – Life.