After the horrific March 15 terrorist attacks at two New Zealand mosques, the music and arts community sprang into action to plan a way to help victims and their families. A series of resulting concerts, titled "You Are Us/Aroha Nui," will take place in New Zealand (April 13 and 17), Jersey City, New Jersey (April 17) and Los Angeles (April 18). Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Our People, Our City Fund, which was established by the Christchurch Foundation to aid those affected by the attacks.
A variety of artists and speakers—including American Ballet Theatre principal Sarah Lane, opera singer Marie Te Hapuku, a traditional Māori dance troupe and several bands—will perform in Jersey City, right in New York City's backyard.
Lane, who lives in Jersey City, heard about the event from Julie Daugherty, a physical therapist at ABT. "One of the organizers is her husband," she says. Lane volunteered to perform a solo in her town's benefit. "Religion is something that is sacred and personal," she says, "and it's so unfortunate that a place of peace and love was completely invaded by hatred."
Reflecting on her religious upbringing in the Christian faith, Lane says, "I really felt for the people who were affected, and I think that the arts can at least bring a little bit of comfort in a situation like this."
Lane's solo, titled "Bi Thusa Mo Shuile," was choreographed for her by her former teacher Jamey Leverett. Lane initially performed it at the Jackson International Ballet Competition when she was a high school senior. Set to Gaelic and instrumental versions of the traditional hymn "Be Thou My Vision," she says the solo still holds special meaning for her.
"As humans and as artists, in the most difficult times, there is always still a light and purpose and hope."