Reflect – Dreams of Space Shifting

Splore Living Lounge, Tapapakanga Regional Park,

19/02/2010 - 19/02/2010

Splore 2010

Production Details

Louise Potiki Bryant is one of New Zealand’s most exciting Maori choreographers. She has been widely praised for her inter-disciplinary choreographic work with Atamira Dance Collective, with whom she has created five works since 2000, including Ngai Tahu 32 (Best contemporary dance production 2004, NZ Listener).

At Splore she will permiere an exciting new dance work inspired by feminine and masculine expression in dance and an intimate connection to nature. With soundscore by Paddy Free.

Reflect – Dreams of Space Shifting
Friday 19 February at 10pm
Splore Living Lounge
Tapapakanga Regional Park
South East Auckland    

Powerful performances against a striking backdrop

Review by Shanon O'Sullivan 22nd Feb 2010

Nestled amongst majestic pohutukawa on a hilltop and former Maori pa site overlooking the ocean, two figures (Liana Yew and Rachel Ruckstuhl-Mann) stand posed, wrapped in long flowing layers of white chiffon gauze that spread out over the earth. Wooden branches are attached to their bodies and their presence melds into the open space.

A blank projector screen fills the space behind, a dark void waiting to be filled. Stars sparkle from a clear cloudless sky and their proximity sends shafts of light through the tress. Waves crash in the distance, cicadas hum and the sound of hip hop beats resonate from the venue below.

Set in Tapapakanga Regional Park, Splore music and arts festival presents Louise Potiki Bryant’s latest work which combines the use of dance, video projection, the spoken word and an original sound score by Paddy Free. Inspired from her internship in Toronto Canada last year, Louise explains that the performance is an exploration of internal landscapes and cultural reflections that question how we reflect upon ourselves as well as towards others in different cultural societies.

As trees gently sway and leaves rustle, one figure is shrouded by the dark night whilst the other figure glows in a light-filtered position. There is a tranquil ambient feeling that permeates the air within this mystical pervasive space. Suddenly, a whispering voice flies through the night sky calling “Dreams of space shifting.” The screen springs to life, and the two individual figures become a life force. Swaying gracefully their branches move in accord.

The screen illustrates a woman bathed in white light floating in shimmering water; her arms glide slowly, sending ripples across the screen. As the light on the screen changes in density, a figure behind the screen unfolds and grows in presence. The screen image fades and the dancer (Louise Potiki Bryant) emerges. Her costume and striking make-up represent a statuesque bird. Her movements are slow, strong and controlled as she weaves her way forward.

After the dancers (Liana and Rachel) place their branches on the ground, their pace quickens and their movements become jerky, replicating a birdlike quality also. As the three dancers meld into the open space they appear to scrutinize each other. Inquisitive signals, oscillating body rhythms and fluttering gestures indicate conversation and recognition of the other.

The screen pulses in the background. Images portray storms of pouring rain and heavy snowfall which illuminate the setting. The ethereal call of a tui calls through the night sky and there is a powerful chemistry as the dancers move in and out of each others space.

Separation versus togetherness: the dancers tease and peck around one another. A roar blasts the atmosphere and the bird (Louise) transforms into something else, a predator perhaps, breathing new life. The two other dancers (Liana and Rachel) reveal from the grass long rectangular mirrors, and with these they taunt and tease, their agile forms moving quickly. As the mirrors shimmer they shift and reflect. What do we see?

In conversation with Louise after the show, she explains that the use of mirrors addresses the question of how we reflect one another when taking into account similarities and differences: how do you see yourself; how do people see us in return? From her observations and experiences in Canada, Louise devised a series of sketches that illustrated her internal reflections. From these sketches animals and birds emerged in correlation with our natural environment – primarily trees, roots and the land. As an explorative investigation, these drawings served as inspiration for both the movement and film choreography.

With an interest in developing unknown movement vocabulary, Louise plays with a combination of motifs in which her body is the source. There are also underlying symbolic references made from Louise’s Maori heritage, such as commanding facial expressions and the use of wiri from all three dancers, which present a commanding force within the work. Drawing from transformative animalistic images and tensions within the body, Louise also self assuredly plays with the mirrors in which multiple layers of identity reveal a strong sense of communication.

Captivating projected visual imagery by Louise, and a sound score by Paddy Free that includes the use of Louise’s fragmented voice, animalistic sounds and prominent rhythmical beats, provide a striking synthesis that enhance and intensify the performance. As the dancers retreat to their initial positions, they blend once more into the darkness of the night and mystical stillness enfolds the area.

Louise Potiki Bryant’s latest work undeniably causes the spectator to reflect upon identity, femininity and human interaction, to say the least. The natural surroundings provide a striking backdrop and powerful performances are delivered by all three dancers. As the sea, earth, and human presence unite in this space, the audience is transported for a brief moment in time. Thoughts prevail and we are left with a lingering sense of admiration. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council