Maori Patterns as Stimuli

My inquiry for the year is to implement Maori and Pacifica culture more meaningfully into my lessons. In one of my year 10 sets I have two Pacifica students who are keen on Drama but struggle to engage with the expectations of some of the more abstract concepts.

As we were moving on to exploring Physical Theatre as a unit, I was concerned that they would find the challenges of using movement difficult as they are self conscious about performing. Therefore I designed a lesson which explored the idea of ‘travelling’ throughout the space as a chorus, specifically looking at patterns of movement on the floor and how they can use this to communicate meaning.

I incorporated four symbolic patterns from the Maori and Pacifica culture as stimulus:

maori movement

I started by showing the students the four images above and we discussed their symbolic meanings. One by one I asked the students to explore moving around the room as a chorus (which they had explored in the previous lesson) and as they did they needed to find ways to follow the patterns above, thinking about how they could use the space to show the thickness of the lines in the pattern. The pieces they created had to depict the symbolic meaning of the patterns.

This produced some interesting and highly effective work. For example, the group with the Pacifica boys in it performed their piece based on the Koru pattern.They incorporated aspects of their cultural performance style into their piece, starting spaced apart from each other, incorporating the wiri to show connection with the earth, clumping closer to make the spiral and ended by sinking to their knees, putting their heads together and then leaning back, growling a deep ‘eeeeh’ as they pushed their heads back. This was not only a powerful performance but it engaged the boys into this style of theatre with no resistance, allowing them to see links with the performances of their own culture and upbringing.