Louise Potiki Bryant is a Māori choreographer, dancer, and video artist. Her iwi (tribes) are Ngāi Tahu, Kāti Mamoe and Waitaha. With her artistic practice Louise aims to honour mana wahine (the intrinsic spiritual power of women), ātua Māori (Māori deities/ancestors), whakapapa (genealogy) and kaupapa Māori (Māori principles and practices).
Louise is a founding member of Atamira Dance Company for whom she has choreographed six works, including NGĀI TAHU 32 ('Best contemporary dance production 2004', NZ Listener), TE AROHA ME TE MAMAE ('Best New Choreographer 2003', NZ Listener), and TAONGA: Dust Water Wind (Best Production, Best Music, and Best Scenography awards at the Tempo Dance Festival 2010). Louise has also choreographed for Black Grace Dance Company, The New Zealand Dance Company and Ōrotokare, Art, Story, Motion.
Louise has a long-running collaboration with researcher and composer Prof Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, with whom she began the development of the somatic and dance practice called Whakaahua Dance. With Charles she choreographed the whare tapere dance work; TE KĀROHIROHI: The Light Dances. In 2014 Louise was the Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance at the University of Otago, during which she continued the development of the Whakaahua Dance practice. Louise now leads Whakaahua Dance workshops nationally and internationally.
Louise has a strong body of solo and collaborative works which draw upon her interdisciplinary and whakaahua practice. These works include NOHOPUKU (Stand–out Performer award, the Dunedin Fringe Festival 2010), TUMUTUMU, a collaboration with taonga pūoro authority Dr Richard Nunns (for which Louise was awarded the most innovative choreographer at Kowhiti Dance 2011) and the highly acclaimed KIRI, a collaborative performance work with clay artist Paerau Corneal. Her latest solo work NGARO is a collaboration with multi-media artists Rona Ngahuia Osborne and Paddy Free. Both KIRI and NGARO have been the TUAKANA performances to open the Tempo Dance Festival in Auckland, New Zealand.
Louise’s works have a strong interdisciplinary focus. She designs installations for her works, and is responsible for the design, production and editing of the projected video elements - an integral part of each performance. She has made seven dance films including WHAKARURUHAU, AORAKI, and KURAWAKA, a collaboration with Hawaiki TU Haka Theatre. Her most recent dance film ROTO was commissioned by the Festival of Colour 2017. Louise has designed video for many music, dance and operas including HOHEPA presented by the NZ Opera Company and NIXON IN CHINA presented by the Auckland Arts Festival. Louise has made several music videos. The music video she made for Ariana Tikao’s song TUIA was awarded Best Music Video at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts festival in Toronto, Canada.
In 2014, Louise was awarded the Harriet Friedlander Residency by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand. This residency supported Louise to live in New York City for a period of choreographic and artistic inspiration in 2016. Other residencies include the Ngāi Tahu Artist in Residence at the Dunedin School of Art, and a Wild Creations Residency which supported Louise in the development of new work whilst living at Aoraki/Mount Cook. In 2009, Louise undertook a choreographic internship with Santee Smith, artistic director of Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, in Toronto. In 2015 Louise was supported by Creative New Zealand’s International Indigenous Artform Exchange to collaborate with Santee Smith on the new dance work RE-QUICKENING for which Louise was the video designer. Louise was also the video designer for Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s most recent dance production BLOOD TIDES.
Louise has a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts with a major in contemporary dance and a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Māori Studies. She has taught at The University of Otago, The University of Auckland, Unitec School of Performing and Screen Arts and in 2018 Louise is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of California, Riverside. Louise is also a certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher.