Tahitian styles of dancing
Raymond Mariteragi, PCC Tahiti Islands Cultural Specialist, explains Te Mahana Hiro'a O Tahiti includes two basic types of Tahitian dancing:
||Otea — the famous hip-shaking dance of Tahiti performed to the syncopated rhythm of wooden to'ere and other drums Click here to learn how the dancers move. May take a few minutes to download.
||Aparima — a fast dance performed to music, including the Tahitian ukulele.
Mariteragi, who was born in Papeete and came to Laie in 1966 to attend BYU-Hawaii (which was known as the Church College of Hawaii until 1974), says the finer points of the otea include having a theme or story line "that can be seen through the dance. The dancers also do 'orero, a formal speech."
The otea style of dancing includes:
- the paoa — where the dancers sit in a circle and chant while select members dance inside the circle;
- and the hivinau, where everyone in the circle chants while dancing.
"The dancers must do the paoa and hivinau. The judges are also looking for poise and synchronization," Mariteragi continues. "We're very particular that the girls' feet are flat on the ground and their legs are not spread. Also, their hips need to move without their shoulders shaking."
"The boys need to do the pa'oti — the scissoring — with strong movements of the legs, while bending down and keeping the back straight. And, of course, they've got to sustain these movements. Tahitian dancing is very vigorous," he adds.