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Emily Adams | Auckland Arts Festival

We sat down with renowned New Zealand dancer and The Shelter client, Emily Adams, ahead of her performance in the Auckland Arts Festival. Here’s what she had to say..

How old were you when you first fell in love with dance and when did you decide to pursue it as a career?

At 5 years old I started dancing. It all started to become more serious in my teens and I started my full time/pre-professional training in Contemporary Dance (NZ School of Dance) at 17. I have been professional for 12 years where I’ve worked and toured with leading NZ Choreographers and Dance Companies.


Can you tell us about the latest work you are a part of in the Auckland Arts Festival?

This is the second production I have been involved in with Muscle Mouth Dance Company. ‘As it Stands’ is the name of this new creation that premieres on Friday. Its inspiration is quite spread, for example we all travelled out to Gibbs Farm (an insanely amazing sculpture park) where we looked at ‘Te Tahuirangi Contour’ a work by American artist and sculptor Richard Serra which blew our minds.  The work could be about man made sculpture but it also looks at nature’s own huge monolithic creations. Creations that mystify us, command our attention, provoke us to explore/unearth/investigate/worship or stay away from. There are these two sentences we look at - “I can’t believe you touched that” “I cant believe you couldn’t”. There is something that comes over us humans when we are faced with something unexplained. We find some things impossible to walk away from, there is a lot of movement and chaos in these reactions I guess.


Did you have much input into the creative process of the work?

The work is driven by a four part collective Ross McCormack (Muscle Mouth’s Artistic Director/ Choreographer), Mel Hamilton (Dramaturg/ Producer), Jason Wright (Sound Design/Composer) and Natasha James (Production Manager/Lighting Designer). The concept and vision is their creation and us dancers support this by contributing to the movement and performative world of the work. It is collaborative in the sense that we are given ‘provocations’ or ‘tasks’ relating to the concepts in the work, to respond to and interpret with creating movement and pathways that form the movement language in this unique journey we have created.  

Where do you find inspiration to create your dances?

Inspiration for dance works can come from many places. In this process particularly we have been referring to many sculptors and their works - Athony Gormley, Richard Serra, David Altjmed. We watched a few plays by Samuel L Beckett: ‘Waiting for Goddot’, ‘Act with no Words’ and ‘Play- Beckett on Film’, as they have intriguing qualities and influence the environment that we are in with these huge set elements. One of the most significant inspirations for this work was physically seeing and experiencing the power of the Richard Serra sculpture ‘Te Tuharangi Contour’at Gibbs farm. This work ‘As it Stands’ is largely influenced by this piece of art particularly the set design elements. 


What is it like leading up to the premiere of a large work like this? Do you put in a lot of hours training?

New Zealand seasons are very short and so are the actual creation periods, so we work big hours in very condensed time frames. Its been 6 days a week 9 - 6 everyday and inside the final week leading up to the premier it gets a bit crazier obviously due to plotting and all the tech required to get a work like this up! It’s madness considering the season is only 3 days!


Where can we buy tickets to see this work?

Auckland Arts Festival website .

or the Muscle mouth website:

People should also just rock up on the night! In New Zealand things don’t really sell out, so I would say just come along, this work is quite literally going to blow your mind… I mean its massive! Plus the ASB Waterfront theatre is new and beautiful surrounding by amazing restaurants and bars.


What has been the highlight of your dancing career to date?

Working with Muscle Mouth Company over the years and also the travel in NZ and internationally, that I have experienced in my dance career.


Can you tell us one thing about being a dancer that might surprise us?

Dancers eat a lot of junk food! Not myself personally but people are always surprised when I tell them this, it’s not the general expectation!

On top of dancing you also work as a Pilates Instructor, can you tell us a bit about this and the studio you work with?

I have been teaching Pilates ever since I have been dancing professionally, almost like a parallel career. I have a lot to thank Pilates for in regards to my Career in dance, it has supported my dancing in many ways, enhanced my movement and kept me in tact, I love it to help me achieve balance in my body and mind. I am now the Manager of The Pilates Body Studio, which happens to be the very first Pilates Studio in New Zealand where Director Maree Seerden opened its doors approximately  22 years ago! So there is a lot of history at there. Not to mention it is the host training site for Polestar Pilates NZ where we train and educate pilates instructors in the Polestar Pilates method which certification is the gold standard of pilates education and recognised worldwide. It keeps me very busy as I work along side Maree for the Pilates Body Studio and Polestar Pilates New Zealand as she is the director of both.


Can you tell us about the benefits of Pilates and why you love it?

Pilates facilitates an abundance of physical benefits (including increased flexibility, mobility, strength, co-ordination, stability, toning and even weight loss). It promotes heightened awareness of the correct alignment and posture for your body, so all round it’s an amazing method of exercise!

The beauty of pilates is that it is for anyone and everyone! From elite athletes, people who want to stay fit and mobile, sufferers of neurological diseases, back pain, many forms of injuries, all ages, all types and all abilities. The purpose is to work with the individuals on their goals and needs. The aim is to promote the individuals best physicality and posture and to help them achieve their goals and guide them to move as efficiently as possible so they flow effortlessly and pain free through everyday life. As Joseph Pilates said ‘with renewed vigour and zest!’


I just love working with such a diverse range of clients and students everyone has different reasons for being there, it is rewarding to help people and work with their own unique goals and needs. I am obsessed with pilates, I practice daily, it brings out the best in me and makes me feel like a better person, both from practicing and teaching!


What differentiates The Pilates Body Studio from other Pilates studios?

We are a boutique studio, nestled in the heart of Auckland CBD on Wellesley Street. As I mentioned, The Pilates Body Studio was the first in NZ so there is a lot of history and experience attached to this studio, it holds real character and we have high quality standard of service as we are the training hub for Polestar Pilates Education, and our staff are all graduates, mentors and educators of this method.

The studio is fully equipped and we offer a wide range of different types of classes including ‘Studio’ style classes which uses all of the pilates studio apparatus and caters to the needs of each individual in the session, ‘Reformer’ and ‘Mat’ style group classes which are more general and fitness orientated, and we also offer Private or Duet style sessions. For more info visit our website:

You have been a taylor client for several years, how do you find the brand works with your lifestyle?

I have so many taylor pieces… and I am ALWAYS complimented on these when I wear them! I find that they are trans-seasonal and many items are my ‘go to’ clothes and have such amazing and reliable quality. My style is more casual/urban/street and I love that taylor seem to create the perfect pieces for my taste that I can dress up and casual down depending on the occasion. I feel ‘funky’ and ‘unique’ when I wear my taylor clothing. There are also some really practical elements to them. Particularly my warm coats and jackets and also the two waterproof taylor rain jackets I have. I drive a Vespa and in the cold and rain these items really come in handy! I generally wear taylor for most of the after functions for the productions I’ve performed in over the years and most recently in Belgium and Luxembourg when I toured with the NZ Dance Company!


What are your favourite pieces from our new AW19 collection ‘Kilter’?

The ‘Stride Sweater’ and ‘Polygon Shorts’ are totally my style I love the casual-chick look especially the drop crotch of the shorts and the unique angles. I love my ‘Attained Pants’ as the high waist and wide leg style is flattering for my figure.

You can find tickets to Emily's show at  the Auckland Arts Festival website

or the Muscle mouth website: