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Arabesque

dance academy

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Merenia Gray DipDP (NZSD) ARAD AISTD

Ngāi Tahu Rāngitāne Tainui   DipDP (NZSD) ARAD AISTD

Merenia is an award winning arts sector leader with thirty years experience both nationally and internationally in the performing arts, graduating from the New Zealand School of Dance in 1990. Merenia’s whanau has a long and illustrious legacy of excellence within Aotearoa and the arts sector. 

Merenia  is a Trustee for The New Zealand Dance Advancement Trust for The New Zealand Dance Company and has completed a 4-year tenure as a board member of Dance Aotearoa New Zealand and was a commitee member on Te Ope O Rehua, for Toi Maori Aotearoa. 

Her diverse and multidisciplinary career also includes work as a much-in-demand artist, choreographer, teacher, performer, director, arts assessor and writer. She has performed and choreographed works in Hong Kong, Spain, France, Denmark and the United States. Merenia’s choreographic niche is her integration of traditional Maori dance forms, especially mau rākau, a form of martial art, of which she learnt from the late Dr. Milton Hōhaia from Parihaka, while working with Taiao Dance Theatre in the late 80’s. Her popular Art of Dance class at Parnell’s Jubilee Hall is held every Monday morning, serving a community of over 50 years olds. There is a waiting list for this class.

Merenia presented Karanga the stage show at Q Theatre, Auckland in August 2021 and it première’s as a short film directed by award winning film director Mary- Lyn Chambers on SKY Arts Channel, December 2021. Karanga will tour nationally in 2023 after the launch of her much anticipated book, No.3 which has been commissioned to be presented at The Auckland Writers Festival in May 2023. 

Merenia has received the following awards: the Inaugural CNZ Tup Lang Scholarship for choreography, the Dorothy Daniels Dance Foundation Award, the Best New Work Award for The Wellington Fringe Festival, a CNZ grant to study choreographic theatre with Enrique Pardot in Paris, the USIS scholarship to participate in the International Choreographers Program at the American Dance Festival in Duke Universityand a Rotary Exchange Scholarship to Toronto. 

Merenia is passionate about her country; she is an excellent public speaker and she is confident in Maori and Pakeha high profile events. Merenia lives in Auckland with her husband Mark and three teenage children.  

“Mehemea ka moemoe ahau,

Ko ahau anake.

Mehemea ka moemoea a tatou,

Ka taea e tatou”

“If I dream, I dream alone.
If we all dream together,
Then together, we make
the dream come true

Princess Te Puea Herangi