The transformative capacity of art is celebrated in Ngaro (hidden, out of sight, lost), an intensely immersive solo dance performance and installation by Louise Potiki Bryant.
Integrating choreography and film by Potiki Bryant, sound by Paddy Free (Pitch Black) and clothing by Rona Ngahuia Osborne (Native Agent), Ngaro examines Potiki Bryant's experience of living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and finding ways to incorporate it into her art.
It is meticulously detailed and beautifully presented, as is always so in works by Potiki Bryant, and traces an extraordinary arc moving through six phases in her experience with OCD: living a faceless and androgyne (non-gender binary) existence trapped by anxieties and dulled senses to exultantly stepping into the light where she stands tall and strong and faces the world as a fully present feminine mind-body-spirit.
There are magic moments, much fascinating imagery and always a deeply considered positioning of the body in space. A clever set piece provides a dark corner niche to withdraw to, with a narrow ledge on which to perch her body. Post-it notes cluster the wall, providing a visual symbol of Potiki Bryant's OCD.
An orderly spread of what seem to be cellphones transform into hundreds of slips of paper which are tossed into the air. Huge people walk along the street in front of buildings covered in Post-its in post-Trump New York City, dwarfing her on-stage figure.
In some sections, Potiki Byrant's movements include tics, twitches and repeated patterns.
Though almost randomly ordered, it is an impressive sampling of obsessive movement. This combination is progressively harmonised and becomes calmer and more flowing.
In the final section, shimmering symbols of the Maori spiritual entity Hinengaro appear, replacing the people in the streets. Curtains are then furled vertically, becoming chalices, then panels holding rising columns of bubbles. These are elements within a ritual dance, with hints to indigenous cultural practices from Aotearoa and Turtle Island, providing healing.
This revelatory performance opened this year's Tempo Dance Festival in fine style. A longer season would be welcomed at a later date.
What: Tempo Dance Festival 2017 - Ngaro (hidden, out of sight, lost)
Where & when: Rangatira at Q Theatre, Wednesday
Reviewer: Raewyn Whyte