Gigging all over Melbourne in the last 4 years has taught us a few things about performances and bookings. One major lesson is the need for us to double-check if the host is aware of the type of performance we bring to the stage. The name ‘Choir’, understandably, doesn’t really give people the whole picture of what we – Pasefika Vitoria Choir – do during a set.
The average choir (in a western sense) is a group of singers, standing still, singing away while angelically obeying their conductor who is front centre. OUR choir however…not so much. We sing and dance…and our choir leader is somewhere in the back muttering instructions to us – sometimes we listen to her, sometimes we don’t lol.
When you compare a Pacific Island choir to the typical choir you see all around Australia, you’d agree that we are pretty extra. We make a big deal when entering the performance arena – hence our walk-in song, and then our entire set can be likened to a zumba workout – we come off stage huffing and puffing. Generally, Pacific songs needs to be expressed through dance, to accompany the message, and when we say ‘dance’ we mean, whole body movements – some shaking of the hips, legs, hands outstretched, and possibly some jumping up and down. The energy we bring to our songs reflects our love of Pacific culture.
Which brings us to our point about giving our hosts a heads up about this. In 2016 we rocked up to a gig and almost broke the stage – for real, if we didn’t break it, we certainly left it in a different state to what it was before we used it. Because from the moment we entered the arena, the stage floor ‘floated’ beneath us and continued to do so during our entire set. Did we stop performing? No. We kept going. It was one of those moments where we decided on the spot that we were gonna move, shake and groove as per normal and if the stage broke beneath us, then so be it – we would laugh or cry about it later. (Apologies to the horrified lady in the front row of the audience who kept waving for us to stop. We saw you lol).
So from that point on, we’ve always double-checked with our hosts about stage stability. It has to be something that we need to enforce for our own programme needs, to ensure that our work and our cultural expressions are not compromised. We don’t blame our hosts from that gig back in 2016 – and we now acknowledge that both sides need to be on the same ‘stage’ when it comes to organising bookings.
Keep performing everyone! Wishing you all a wonderful season of Pasefika creativity.
xx Rita (PICAA Head Cheerleader)
Photo – Pasefika Vitoria Choir almost breaking the stage (October 2016, Melbourne)