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Ritaha poster image
15 Feb 2021 to 15 Feb 2022
6 to 9:30pm Tuesday 15 February
Join us online to celebrate 25 years of Touch Compass with an evening of dance, theatre, installations, film and aerial performance
Event type: 
Art, Dance, Film


Join Touch Compass online as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary on 15th February for an exciting evening of groundbreaking performance honouring the past, present and future: /rītaha/.

/rītaha/ is a performing arts festival of film, tactile installations, improvised and choreographed dance, innovative theatre and thrilling aerial performance, featuring several fantastic emerging and established artists, and new work from the multi-award-winning artists Lusi Faiva, Rodney Bell and Suzanne Cowan. Go to for more information.
/rītaha/ aims to honour accessibility as well as art. The live-streamed event will have sign language interpretation and audio description through two different channels.

Thread Count

A textile art installation that explores the lived experiences of the disabled and chronically ill, Thread Count embeds their realities as poetry into a forest of soft sculpture, and invites the community to immerse themselves within a chorus of these stories.
The space is based heavily in the tactile and in sensation with large drops of fabric cascading down around it. The installation will be built almost entirely with fabric and thread, and sewn by hand, giving the attention and detail to every strand embroidered into the work.
Thread Count is for the Auckland community of disabled and chronically ill, to bring us together to meet in soft spaces which reflect our unique disabled experiences.

Holly Mercer - Performer / Sarah Cooper-Slee - Stitcher / Lizzie WInders - Producer

Knotty Entities
A site-specific rope installation work in which performance artists Suzanne Cowan and Emilia Rubio build a series of moving rope installations as a study of restriction, desire, connectivity and knotty entanglements.
Inspired by the art of Shibari, Japanese rope tying, Rubio and Cowan shape a series of rope architectures exploring the relationship between tension and release, folding, unfolding, verticality and horizontality, anchoring and suspension.

Suzanne Cowan, Emilia Rubio - Performers

New Films
Bodies of Water
Bodies of Water is a short film that explores the experience of moving through the world differently. Delving into movement and medium, it embraces metaphor through imagery, sound and the poetics of the body. Through distortions, reflections and obstructions of water the piece examines how our environment dictates how we move, see, hear and feel.

Imogen Zino - Creator/actor

i-waenga is a collection of short films in which seven artists from Aotearoa and New Zealand respond to the theme of time and space from their own perspective of indigenous time, disabled time and everything in-between. Celebrating the connection between these perspectives, this work encourages new understandings of the body through sound installation, digital poetry and stop motion animation.

Tusiata Avia, Grace Taylor, Amy Blinkhorne, thecornycousin, Forest V Kapo, AJ FATA, AM Kanngieser - Creators / Producers

Performance Installation
Wai/Rua signifies the two waters of crip time (disability time) and disability consciousness which shapes this performance installation. Wai/Rua draws from our 8 artists’ lived experience of rest and rejuvenation as it dives deep into the subterranean world of crip time. It engages our artists’ processes of dreaming into new realities in a dual format of virtual space and live performance space. The site specific work will be simultaneously on-stage in the venue and live-streamed from around the world with our international performers. It is accompanied by live music.  Wai/Rua brings the private space of our horizontal lives into the public space of performance and is simultaneously a reflection on our lock-down experiences: a new experience for most non-disabled people but a familiar experience for people with access needs.

Dancers - Duncan Armstrong, Julie van Renen, Sierra Diprose, Yung Chen, Susanne Bentley (Brussels), Sumara Fraser (Wellington), and dancers from The GASP! Dance Collective (Dunedin) and Jolt Dance (Christchurch) / Lewis McCallum - DJ

Staged performance
Thread Count Poems
Holly Mercer, creator of the Thread Count installation, will perform poems inspired from the Thread Count project live on stage.

Illegally Blind
A comedy theatre work written and performed by Susan Williams. A hilarious and relatable exploration of the daily difficulties of living at the intersection of disability, mental and physical illness, and queerness. Susan embraces her identity and shares her experiences with the audience with a great deal of grace and humour.

Susan Williams - Performer / Charlie Hann - Producer / Anastasia Matteini-Roberts - Director, Audio Describer

Hau Tipua: Extraordinary People
In stillness, we begin to learn to bring a loving attention to ourselves.
In movement, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.

Hau Tipua is a reinterpretation of Rodney Bell’s heralded, emotional work Hurihuri – striving to create a collective consciousness, Hau Tipua incorporates the concepts of whanaunatanga, reciprocity and circularity with elements of kapa haka, accompanied by live drumming.
He Raa ki Tua - better times are coming

Rodney Bell, Malia Johnston - Kaita Ringatohu/Artistic Directors / Harper Heta, Taniora Motutere, Cuba Haslam, Brydie Colquhoun, Rodney Bell - Ngā Kaitaa/Performers /  Tom Scrase - Kaiwhakatangitangi/Drummer and Musician / Rose Philpott - Kaitaa/Akoako/Rehearsal Direction and co-choreographer

Taupou is a traditional (siva) Samoan dance with grace and power. This public performance piece investigates the symbolism and beauty standards within the role of the taupou. The taupou is the ceremonial hostess selected by the village chief to elevate the formal reception of visitors to a village or place. This is Lusi's piece, bringing her own unique style to a performance connects her to her Samoan side. Taupou was first performed as part of Cuba Dupa in 2021.

Lusi Faiva, Shanelle Lenehan - Dancers / Rose Kirkup - Director

Installation Performance
Knotty Entities
A dance work by Suzanne Cowan and Emilia Rubio in which they integrate themselves into their rope work installation piece.

The Air Between Us
Multi-award winning disabled artist Rodney Bell and critically acclaimed choreographer Chloe Loftus present The Air Between Us, an aerial event that has been captivating audiences across Aotearoa.  Spiralling into the air, this counterweighted duet celebrates equality and connection.
The Air Between Us explores a meeting point; between two bodies in space, in perfect equilibrium, crossing boundaries of culture, creativity and play. Arriving at this place from diverse backgrounds and experiences, Chloe and Rodney explore our innate capacity to exist in symbiotic harmony. Like planets encircling around each other, magnetically pulled by each other’s energy, this is an inimitable and mesmerising performance.

Rodney Bell , Chloe Loftus - Creators/Performers / Tym White Rigger

Touch Compass would like to acknowledge the generous support of Creative New Zealand, Auckland Council and Auckland Live, without which this event would not be possible.