Black Grace is New Zealand’s leading contemporary dance company, founded in 1995 by Neil Ieremia, ONZM, one of New Zealand’s most accomplished choreographers. Ieremia draws from his Samoan and New Zealand roots to create innovative dance works that reach across social, cultural, and generational barriers, expressed with raw finesse, unique beauty, and power.
The company features some of New Zealand’s finest dancers and has toured internationally in Europe and to Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Australia, and New Caledonia. In 2004, the company made its United States debut at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, with a subsequent return in 2005. The company has also performed a four-week season on New York’s 42nd Street and at the renowned Cervantino Festival in Mexico, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the 2010 Cultural Olympiad in Vancouver, Canada.
In 2022, Ieremia and Black Grace received the inaugural Moana Creative Enterprise Award at the 2022 Pacific Business Trust Awards.
Neil Ieremia, ONZM, is one of New Zealand’s most accomplished choreographers. As a creative entrepreneur and inspirational leader, he draws from his Samoan and New Zealand roots to create innovative dance works that reach across social, cultural, and generational barriers.
Born in Wellington, New Zealand, and of Samoan heritage, Ieremia was raised in a working class neighborhood in a country he found to be more focused on sporting prowess and agriculture than creative expression. At the age of nineteen, and with no formal training, Ieremia resigned from his banking job, left home, and enrolled full time in a dance program, against his parents’ expectations.
As a freelance professional dancer, Ieremia worked with many leading New Zealand choreographers, in addition to creating a number of commissioned works before founding Black Grace in 1995.
Among his many other achievements, Ieremia received a 2005 Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award and the 2009 Paul D. Fleck Fellowship in the Arts from the Banff Centre in Canada. In 2015, he received a City of Porirua Anniversary Award and the Senior Pacific Artist Award from Creative New Zealand. In 2016, Ieremia was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to dance, and was made an honorary member of the ICONS (International Consortium for Advancement in Choreography, Inc.) International Choreographers Advisory Board. In 2021, he was a recipient of a Kea World Class Award, and was inducted into the Porirua Hall of Fame. In 2022, Ieremia and Black Grace received the inaugural Moana Creative Enterprise Award at the 2022 Pacific Business Trust Awards.