Neil Ieremia (ONZM) is the founding artistic director of Black Grace. He is one of New Zealand’s most accomplished choreographers, and a creative entrepreneur and inspirational leader.
Born in Wellington and of Samoan heritage, Neil was raised in a tough working-class neighbourhood in a country focused more on sporting prowess and agriculture rather than creative expression. At the age of 19 and with no formal training, Neil resigned from his banking job, left home, enrolled in a full-time dance programme and broke his parents’ hearts.
In his final year of training he was invited to join the prestigious Douglas Wright Dance Company, working there until 1996. As a freelance professional dancer, Neil also worked with many other leading New Zealand choreographers as well as creating a number of commissioned works.
Motivated to provide a different perspective and a fresh voice in the dance scene, Neil founded his own company, Black Grace, in 1995, with ten male dancers of Pacific, Māori and Aotearoa New Zealand heritage. Since then,he has changed the face of contemporary dance in New Zealand and turned Black Grace into one of the most recognisable and iconic cultural brands.
Read his dance story here.