Matariki Mix-It is the brainchild of Mika, who has been one of the leading lights of the gay Māori community for a number of years and is now working, mostly, with the next generation of creatives of all kinds. This evening is a showcase of the projects in which he has been involved. On opening night, the show was comprised of a series of presentations, from breakdancing to Maori lifestyle television, which in a rather charming low-tech fashion were projected on to a floppy sheet. Sometimes feedback is required, sometimes not. It felt a bit like an open rehearsal, with a good deal of material of work still in progress, and it was presented as so, on the night itself at least, if not on the posters. It was interesting in that it offered an insight into a group working hard to be innovative, trying out different ways of working, and taking a different point of view from the mainstream.
The Mikahaka organisation celebrates diversity, but seems to draw people who are like Mika, by which I mean flamboyant, but also very sweet and nice - congenial enough to be lured on stage for an impromptu dance (which doesn’t happen often where I come from). The downside to congenial and sweet makes one venture that perhaps there isn’t enough drive to push the boundaries; to keep stretching the skills of everyone involved.
Mika is a larger than life character, a Priscilla Queen of the Desaotearoa, who can’t help dominating the room, and this is very much his baby - as are the performers. Whether they will fly away and reach the heights away from his magpie nest is yet to be seen.
Some good head-spinning from the In-Stance Movement Breakdance Crew, and some nice singing, particularly from Te Amo were enjoyable, as was the kapa haka performance. There are more acts promised for the closing night shows at the Basement, which I think is a good thing. However, like the run itself, it opens and closes without a good deal in between and while the mood is congenial, and the cast are eager to please the show felt a tad underprepared, drawn-out, and at times a little self-indulgent. I wanted it to be better.