Fez Fa'anana & Polytoxic

Stephen Carleton

Polytoxic

Polytoxic

Ioanne Efeso Sidney Fa’anana is a New Zealand-born Samoan raised in Ipswich, Queensland. Efeso became Fez when his Australian teachers “would pause then stutter when it got to my name on the attendance roll!” This early experience of cultural friction finds contemporary resonance in Fez’s work with Polytoxic, the dance company he founded with Lisa Fa’alafi in Brisbane in 2000. Suzuki-trained Leah Shelton joined the group in 2002. The “poly” in the company’s moniker refers to their Polynesian roots and to the polyvalent voice they are finding as they fuse traditional Samoan dance with hip street and physical theatre sensibilities. Working extensively with the Youth Arts network in Queensland, Polytoxic have performed at events as diverse as the Asia Pacific Triennial at the Queensland Art Gallery and, soon, at uber-cool Valley nightclub, Family. They have collaborated consistently with local indigenous groups as well as other Polynesian communities in Brisbane and want, in Fez’s words, to “create performance that can reach and relate to as many cultures, subcultures and sub-subcultures as possible” in order to push dance genre boundaries and debunk orientalist notions of Polynesian dance as “floor show” entertainment for Western tourist consumption. Their forthcoming production, Teuila Postcards, a collaboration with Brisbane design, art and music outfit Rinzen, for instance, detonates reductive stereotypes of dusky island maidens “combing their hair on a rock” and Hills-Hoists in taro-leafed Samoan Australian backyards. Fez’s sharp satiric eye (which he attributes to an early diet of Young Talent Time and the Solid Gold dancers) combines with an astute cultural-political sensibility. Polytoxic is a formidable, innovative company worth watching.

RealTime issue #57 Oct-Nov 2003 pg. 13

© Stephen Carleton; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 October 2003
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