Presented by Le Moana and Critical Stages Touring

Created by Tupua Tigāfua

Designed by Lisa Maule and Hamahuna Hawkins

Featuring Sean MacDonald, Tupua Tigafua, Andy Faiaoga, Chris Ofanoa, Jeremy Beck, Eddie Elliott

Shel Silverstein's poetic language comes alive in this beautiful contemporary exploration of language, movement, and masculinity.

Inspired by the works of renowned American writer Shel Silverstein, Shel We is an enchanting, playfully intriguing and visually stunning dance show created by Tupua Tigāfua, a highly accomplished dancer and choreographer who has had an illustrious career dancing for some of Aotearoa’s creative elite. Tupua is one of the most ingenious dance storytellers of this generation.

Shel Silverstein was a critically acclaimed writer who wrote books such as Where the sidewalk ends and The Giving Tree. As well as iconic ballads Sylvia’s Mother for Doctor Hook and A boy named Sue for Johnny Cash.

Shel’s off beat style and brilliant use of metaphorical imagery in his poetry and illustrations are what inspires Tupua’s choreography – ultimately delivering a tribute to his parents, his family and the environment that has inspired him over the years.

If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.

Come in!
Come in!

– Shel Silverstein 

Available to Tour



Contemporary Dance, Pasifika Arts, Physical Theatre


All ages


60 minutes, no interval

Venue Format

Theatre (Proscenium), Civic/Cultural Centre, Black Box, Studio

Bump In

1 Day bump-in, open same day evening (pre-rig).

Touring Party

6 x Performers
1 x Lighting & Sound Operator
1 x Producer
1 x Stage Manager

What They Are Saying

“a captivating balance of sombre and smiles… A fluid, seamless dance vocabulary… infectious.” Theatre Review NZ 

“It occurs to me I am bearing witness to the Pasifika custom of verbal storytelling, a legend passed down through the generations translated through the beautiful physical narrative unfolding before my eyes and recognised by my heart.” Theatre Review NZ (Hawkes Bay)

“Gravity is defied, literally, emotionally, and metaphorically” Theatre Review NZ (Wellington)

“Swagger, simplicity, and captivating dance” Theatre Review NZ (Manawatu)

“Enhanced by simple staging, clever use of props, and soundscapes of rain, birdsong and voices, Shel We has the kids in the audience engaged throughout and the adults reminded of what it is to be playful.” Theatre Review NZ

Key Audiences & Marketing Notes

Key Audiences:

  1. Contemporary dance lovers.
  2. Pasifika communities and those with an interest in Pasifika arts and artforms.
  3. Fans of narrative-driven dance productions.

The work is at once beautiful, poignant, and polished. Often humorous and disarming, it is an excellent choice for programmers seeking contemporary dance that intersects with First Nations and Pasifika culture.

The addition of a solo male vocalist and live musician adds layers of depth and connection for audiences. As it deals with themes of family, masculinity and culture, it also speaks to a broad audience, with opportunities to invite theatre and First Nations culture lovers into a contemporary dance experience they will enjoy.

Press, Awards & Previous Seasons


This work has been presented at the Mangere Arts Centre in Auckland for the Pacific Dance Festival, as well as at the Measina Festival at Te Auahā in Wellington City, and Pātaka Art + Museum in Porirua. Shel We recently toured as a featured work to the BIBU Biennial in Helsingborg, Sweden.

In Wellington, photographer Celia Walmsley noted “Hundreds of primary school children rose to their feet in applause, the young hipsters in awe after the show asking how they could become contemporary dancers, while senior citizen lovers held hands and gazed into each other’s eyes after hearing an old Samoan love song that brought back memories of the vibrant 70s. Shel We? appeals to different generations from all walks of life.”


Tupe Lualua, Artistic Director of Le Moana, received the Contemporary Artist Award at the 2021 Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Awards, and is a 2022 recipient of The FAME Mid-Career Award, presented by the FAME Trust, Acorn Foundation, and PANNZ.

About Le Moana

LE MOANA are an arts collective based in Aotearoa.  A vessel for the exchange of stories, concepts and ideas through the medium of live performance, Le Moana was established as a pathway for cultural exchange and the development of Pacific storytelling locally and internationally.

“We started as a group of three Wellington-based Sāmoan practitioners looking for a shared space to present our works, and today we are a pan-Pacific festival hosting the latest creations from companies all around Aotearoa. Our audiences travel from all around the country to witness the new generation of ground-breaking Artists, ready to make their mark on the scene”
Artistic Director and founder Tupe Lualua