A host of ancient spirits and totems embody story of Maoridom’s first woman, which opens Tempo festival

A stunning collaboration between Louise Potiki Bryant, dance artist, and Paerau Corneal, clay worker, on the subject of skin, the whakapapa of clay itself and the creation story of Maoridom's first woman, Hine-ahu-one, opens Tempo 2014 in great style.

Kiri means skin.

The audience files in to find a circle of dappled light already containing the motionless body of Bryant, camouflaged, lizard-like, in a coating of white clay. The potential sculptor sits in shadow nearby. The action all takes place in this small, illuminated arena, Bryant's lithe, beautiful and deeply expressive body tracing the evolution of rock, through water, to clay and, in Corneal's strong hands, the female form. She perfectly embodies a host of ancient spirits and totems throughout her one-hour movement marathon, and when Corneal steps forward to coat her in another layer of, this time, reddish clay, surrenders but still exquisitely articulates the subtle intent of the unmitigated substance itself.

Paddy Free's score adds an immeasurable meaning to the action, gurgling and flowing, crashing and cracking in what becomes a mesmerising and inseparable dance between the ever-changing light patterns, designed by Bryant, the sound and the physical arts of two women.

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Mataqali Drift is the work of Fiji's Vou, a music and contemporary dance company, in this production intent on "watering our roots". In April this year the troupe of mainly urban Fijian youth went on a voyage of discovery to the remotest corners of their island land to "rediscover, re-connect and re-present" their largely forgotten cultural heritage.

The result is a wildly spirited performance by some arrestingly powerful dancers, based upon their recent and obviously heartfelt experiences. But the tempo is as unrelenting as a drumbeat, fast and furious and with a constant undertone of discord and aggression.

There are few if any moments of softness or the reflection proclaimed in the programme notes.

The performance, billed as of one-hour duration, also runs in excess of 90 highly emotive minutes, which only adds to the distinct whiff of juvenile self-absorption and a lack of some much-needed editing.

What: Kiri and Mataqali Drift, Tempo Dance Festival
Where: Q Theatre
Reviewer: Bernadette Rae