About

 

Welcome to the home of Talanoa – a place where you can find authentic Oceanic voices sharing real stories and experiences in the hope of inspiring, encouraging, and informing people in our communities and in our world.

Do you have a story to tell? Do you think stories are important? Are you looking to connect with Pacific people around the world? Then you’ve come to the right place. Sit down and talanoa with us, an inclusive global community of Oceanic people who are sharing their stories online.

In many Pacific languages, talanoa means to tell a story, or have a conversation. Seu’ula Johansson Fua describes it perfectly:

Talanoa is a generic term referring to a conversation, chat, sharing of ideas and talking with someone. It is a term that is shared by Tongans, Samoans, and Fijians. Talanoa can be formal, as between chiefs and his or her people, and it can be informal, as between friends in a kava circle. Talanoa is also used for different purposes; to teach a skill, to share ideas, to preach, to resolve problems, to build and maintain relationships, and to gather information.” – The Kakala Research Framework, Seu‘ula Johansson Fua.

 

Our Team

Founder // Arieta Tegeilolo Talanoa Tora Rika

Arieta is a writer, cultural advisor, Pacific storyteller, and the Founder of Talanoa, a digital space for Pacific people to share their stories. With over 10 years of experience in social impact and non-profit communications across Australia and the Pacific, Arieta has dedicated her career to writing for positive change.

Since founding Talanoa in 2015, Arieta has collaborated with government, organisations specialising in international development, local non-profits, technology-based agencies, and news platforms as a lead writer, cultural advisor, and co-creator of Pacific-based programs. As a writer, Arieta’s work has been published by major news publications internationally, particularly across the Pacific. At the moment, Arieta is an online student at Western Sydney University, completing a Bachelor of Communications.

 

Creative Director // Emele Ugavule

Emele is a Tokelauan Fijian (Te Kaiga o Fagatiale, Te Kaiga o Koloi, Uvea, Kaideuba)  multidisciplinary storyteller.

Her work is intercultural centring the development of ethical collaborative creative processes & outcomes informed by Indigenous epistemologies, ontologies & cosmologies.
Emele has worked with independent & commercial arts organisations across Australia & the Pacific as a consultant, producer, writer, performer & director. 

She is a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Arts, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts & is currently a post-graduate student at Curtin University undertaking a Masters of Online & Digital Media.

 

Amy Zhang // Associate Artist



Amy is an Australian-born  movement artist  that has completely immersed herself in the global street dance scene. Specialising in performance, movement direction  and choreography, Amy has found herself sharing her work both nationally and internationally.

Amy is driven by the idea of dance being a universally understood language. Using dance as her vehicle, she combines her unique eye for aesthetics to bring a new life to movement in all forms of media and live performance.

Amy is addicted to finding new forms of movement and is constantly combining this with her foundational knowledge of street styles. Her unique movement has caught the eye of many, gaining Amy roles as a feature dancer and movement director for the likes of Cartier x Rita Ora, Nike and Calvin Klein. Most recently, Amy has collaborated with Google to curate an AI dance app that was presented at this years Google I/O annual developer conference in Los Angeles.
 

 

Sela Vai // Associate Artist

Sela Vai is a Sydney-based movement artist who seeks to create sensuous alchemy through movement. Pushing her creative thresholds, Sela is resident choreographer for theatre company run by Women of Colour Black Birds since 2017 as well as choreographing the opening performances for Pacific Runway Fashion Show Carriageworks 2017 and 2018; all of which dignify her Pacific Islander heritage.

Sela performed for Solange Knowles as a part of her ensemble in early 2018 at The Sydney Opera House, and more recently was featured in Jessica Mauboy’s newest music video “Sunday”. She has choreographed and movement-directed for Australian-based artists Ngaiire, Thelma Plum, Wallace, L-Fresh the Lion, Kase Avila and Kid Fiction. She has been invited to showcase at events such as TedX Sydney (2017), Sydney Fringe Festival, First VI Kinjaz production, World of Dance, and Australian Dance Festival

Sela choreographed the most recent “Apple Pay” TVC for Apple and Commbank, as well as the “Team Girls” TVC for Suncorp. She has commercially been involved with choreographing for Disney Channel and Heaps Gay, and dancing for Sephora. Sela was apart of The Dream Dance Company’s works ‘UNTOLD’ ,‘PRODIGY’ (2018) and ‘GODDESS’ (2019); Amrita Hepi’s work ‘A Caltex Spectrum’ (2018); and has toured Australia with Dancing For Jane’s production ‘ONE’ (2016). 

Sela choreographed the most recent “Apple Pay” TVC for Apple and Commbank, as well as the “Team Girls” TVC for Suncorp. She has commercially been involved with choreographing for Disney Channel and Heaps Gay, and dancing for Sephora. Sela was apart of The Dream Dance Company’s works ‘UNTOLD’ ,‘PRODIGY’ (2018) and ‘GODDESS’ (2019); Amrita Hepi’s work ‘A Caltex Spectrum’ (2018); and has toured Australia with Dancing For Jane’s production ‘ONE’ (2016). 

As a teacher, she has shared her work on many platforms, teaching workshops across Australia as well as in Switzerland (BGST Studio), London (Pineapple Dance Studio, Studio 68), Ireland (Fly Dance Studio), China (5KM Studio/Urban Animal Studio), New Zealand, and Singapore. More recently through her trip volunteering with CERES Global, she taught all around India. Sela has judged at numerous competitions including World of Dance Australia (2017), Battlegrounds (2017), and World Domination Championships (2018).

Taofia Pelesasa // Associate Artist 

Taofia Pelesasa is of Tokelauan and Samoan heritage, born in Rotorua, New Zealand and replanted in Mt Druitt, Western Sydney. 

A graduate of the Unitec School of Performing and Screen Arts (Auckland, Aotearoa) as an acting and writing student, he has worked as an actor, producer and writer in both screen and theatre in New Zealand and Australia. Highlights of his career thus far have been Young Shakespeare’s performance of “Julius Caesar” at the Globe Theatre in London, Auckland Theatre Company’s productions’ of ‘Mary Stuart’,’A Frigate Bird Sings’, ‘Disorder’ and most recently the National tour of ‘My Own Darling’. He was also core cast on the International tour of “The Factory Musical” throughout Australia and Scotland as well as the Australian and New Zealand tour of the Victor Rodger hit “Black Faggot” and the return season of “At The Wake” at the Herald Theatre. His recent theatre performances were with the Auckland Theatre Company’s National New Zealand tour of Grace Taylor’s “My Own Darling” at the end of 2017.

 Taofia also wrote and co-produced short-films “The Promise of Piha” and “Maria” both of which successfully travelled the International film festival circuit. “Piha” receiving a special mention at the prestigious ‘imagiNATIVE Film Festival’ in Toronto and ‘Maria’ receiving funding from the New Zealand Film Commission, being selected to represent New Zealand as part of the Department of Tourism’s cultural road show of South America and winning the ‘Most Popular Film’ award as part of the PBS Online Film Festival.  As a writer Taofia has been mentored by Sima Urale, Louise Tu’u and Victor Rodgers with his first short-film “Fish’n’Chip Friday” screenplay being short-listed for the 2012 Fresh Shorts initiative for the New Zealand Film Commission. His writing has also seen him receive mentorships with Script-to-Screen NZ in Auckland and International & Cultural Exchange in Parramatta, Sydney. 

His full length play “Te Molimau” was selected by the prestigious Belvoir Theatre Company in Sydney to be programmed in their Independent 25a Season in August 2019. 

Independently, Taofia has worked on his own works the most significant of which is “Polinesia” which has had him spend a two-year research project between Sydney and Lima, Peru.

Taofia is a key creative for Talanoa Storytelling – a Pacific focussed storytelling platform based out of Sydney, Australia which has seen him work on projects such as the  AV Series “The Places we Call Home” in collaboration with Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIIC), Cowbird & PBS based out of Hawaii, United States of America. This year Taofia will make a series of Pacific focussed web-series pilots with the support of Screen Australia and Information & Cultural Exchange .

Taofia has acting and literary representation from Liberty Management, Australia. 






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