How good is that?
A few years later, at the age of 15, he went to an underage rave in Auckland and won the dance competition, “I won against a guy who danced like Michael Jackson,” MacDonald says. “That was when I started to think of dance as a career choice.”
Twenty-five years later and MacDonald is still dancing. He’s back in Wellington with Black Grace, the contemporary dance company he has performed on and off with since its formation in 1995. Choreographer Neil Ieremia’s new work Waka received standing ovations on a recent tour of Germany. MacDonald says they’ve extended the 30 minute dance piece into an hour long show for a five centre North Island tour.
“Neil was inspired by a 19th century French painting The Raft of the Medusa, and by Goldie’s The Arrival of the Maori in New Zealand. He’s taken the raft and used it as a metaphor for hope.”
MacDonald says what makes Ieremia’s work stand out is that it’s very physical.
“It’s very high paced and there is a danger in the physicality. You’re approaching other dancers at very high speed and you get very close to each other.”
MacDonald danced with Black Grace in its inaugural season in 1995. He was a year behind Ieremia at dance school in Auckland, and when Ieremia approached him saying he had an idea for a new dance piece called Black Grace, he was keen to be involved.
MacDonald’s worked off and on with Black Grace since then, touring with the company through New Zealand, Europe and North America. He’s also worked internationally as a freelance dancer with both dance and opera companies, and in film.
“Dancing has taken me all over the world, and I’ve worked with some of the best dancers and choreographers on the planet. How good is that?”
As well as one of Black Grace’s prime players MacDonald is also one of the oldest members of the company. He turns 40 at the end of the year.
“How long can I keep it up, who knows? With Black Grace the work is so high intensity I can’t keep going forever, but I expect there’s still a few years in me yet. Then I guess it’s to teaching and choreography.”
Waka, Black Grace, Te Whaea National Dance and Drama Centre, July 27-31.