Cat Ruka (Ngapuhi, Waitaha, Pakeha) (PG Dip, MCPA) is an independent performance artist and choreographer based in Auckland. Representing a new generation of body-related artists her work is bold and challenging. Since graduating with her Masters from the University of Auckland’s Dance Programme in 2009, Cat has enjoyed a diverse range of experiences in the establishment of her career in performance artistry, dance writing, education and scholarly research.
Her debut solo work Playing Savage found success both at home and abroad. After receiving 4 award nominations at the Tempo Dance Festival and taking the prize for Best Production, Playing Savage went on to be performed in Wellington at the Kowhiti Matariki Dance Festival and in New Jersey, USA at Rutgers University. In 2009 Cat initiated the blog Yellingmouth – a new space for critical reflection on dance and performance art in New Zealand.
On her return to New Zealand in 2010 after a brief stint in New York, Cat presented a work at the Tempo Dance Festival called Wolf: Where Wolves Fear To Prey. This received another 4 award nominations, taking the prize for Best Scenography. The same year, Cat was commissioned to choreograph a solo for acclaimed musician Dudley Benson’s national tour of his album Forest: Songs By Hirini Melbourne. She was also selected by the Goethe Institut to study the art of dance writing under Keith Gallasch and Franz Anton Cramer at the Dance Critic Workshop in Jakarta, Indonesia.
In 2011 Cat began her role as Principal Dance Lecturer at the Manukau Institute of Technology in Otara, South Auckland. She has since choreographed and directed musicals for her students as well as designing curriculums and leading workshops that introduce post-modern approaches to choreography. In 2011 Cat was also selected to attend a choreographic residency in Bundanon, Australia and another at HAU theatre in Berlin along with 10 other emerging choreographers from around the world. Whilst on this residency, Cat put together the foundations for her work New Treaty Militia, a duet with Josh Rutter that aims to radically subvert and disrupt the Maori/Pakeha binary. This work toured Berlin, New York, Auckland and South Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, finally returning to Wellington to be performed at Te Papa National Museum on Waitangi Day 2012.
In 2012 Cat became a dance writer for Auckland’s Metro magazine, kicking off with a review of the New Zealand Dance Company’s inaugural season. During this time she also partnered up with choreographer Tru Paraha to present HINE 2012 at Auckland’s Maidment Theatre. This performance was an interweaving of two solos that opened up a direct dialogue between the indigenous feminine body and the colonial patriarchy of the theatre space. In October, Cat presented Fantastically Natural Environments for Tempo Dance Festival’s Tuaakana programme.
This year Cat presented her first group work Awkward Altars at the Auckland Fringe Festival, and is currently working on a solo to be exhibited in June.
Cat has also presented her performance research at a number of conferences, including the World Dance Alliance in Brisbane, Australia and the PSi conference in Leeds, UK.