Tahitian dancing is 'rooted in our traditions', we express ourselves through dance

6:08 pm on 22 April 2017

"Tahitian dancing is rooted in our traditions and we express ourselves through dance, we represent our ancestors and our culture," according to Tahitian Poemoana Teriinohorai.

"It's more than just a basic step or movements, it's also about our culture."

Poemoana Teriinohorai began dancing at a young age and dancing has is a very important place in her life.

In 2001, she was a student at Moeata Laughlin dance school "Tamariki Poerava" and became co-choreographer of the group "O Tahiti E" in 2008.

Tahitian dancer, Poemoana

Tahitian dancer, Poemoana Photo: Mareikura Brightwell

Voted best dancer of the group in 2009, she then went on to make the podium in the "Ori Tahiti Nui Solo" competition and came in vice-world champion of 'Ori Tahiti in the Aito Vahine section at the Ori Tahiti world Championshipnui in 2015.

Today, the 28-year-old pre-school teacher lives in the district of Punaauia and still exercises her crucial role in the world famous group "O Tahiti E" and plans to open a dance school and travel the world in the coming years.

Ms Teriinohorai says she wants to maintain Tahiti's mana and share her passion with the world.

She held workshops in Australia and New Zealand, and was recently in our Wellington studios, and spoke to Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor.

Tahitian dancer Poemoana.

Tahitian dancer Poemoana. Photo: Mareikura Brightwell

POEMOANA TERIINOHORAI: "I think people wanted to dance to Ori Tahiti because they have seen it on You Tube, I can see a lot of people who dance like the Ori Tahiti but for us we want to share more, not just the Ori Tahiti the dance but the culture. So in Australia, Pacific people can feel what want to say because it's important for me to share more, not just basic movement, basic step but more, the culture because when must understand what we dance.

MOERA TUILAEPA-TAYLOR: Do some of your dance moves, do they incorporate some stories about your cultural and a little bit about your ancestry, is that also in part of your moves as well?

Poemoana taking a workshop in Sydney.

Poemoana taking a workshop in Sydney. Photo: Mareikura Brightwell

PT: Yes, all the time, when we created choreography, we must have a theme, so it can be, a story that we know or an author in Tahiti writes a story, and we just don't move, it's not like a sport or just standing, we must feel a real story.

MTT: Ori Tahiti, is that what you call Tahitian dancing?

PT: Yes, it is the dance in Tahiti, so it's a part of our culture, from Tahiti, we have a lot of islands in Tahiti, and people in Marquesas dance their dance, and the same in Tuamotu, so in Tahiti we dance the Ori Tahiti, it's specific of Tahiti.

MTT: In Tahiti, it's it big and popular, Tahitian dancing.

Poemoana with the Inano dance group in Wellington.

Poemoana with the Inano dance group in Wellington Photo: Mareikura Brightwell

PT: It's a part of our culture, we have a lot of Tahitian dance schools, so it's easy to dance in Tahiti, all girls can dance, all boys can dance, you can dance in a professional troupe, so it's really easy to dance, for us it's living our culture through dance.

MTT: I know there's a big festival in Tahiti, Te Heiva Tahiti. What does that involve?

PT: In Tehiva, Tahitian troupe present a spectacular show, but it's a competition, we must present a story, and it's a real important moment, for Tahitian people, because we spend about seven months, a lot of dancers are in one place during this time, and it's a really important moment for our culture.

Poemoana taking a Tahitian workshop in Porirua, Wellington.

Poemoana taking a Tahitian workshop in Porirua, Wellington. Photo: Mareikura Brightwell

MTT: I guess also, with the dance movements, you are also able to use, the Tahitian language as well, so that's also really good for young people to learn the language and the moments.

PT: Yes and no, because we must understand what we dance but people explain in French in Tahiti, you can have certain people explain more in Tahitian because they have the knowledge but young people don't speak Tahitian, they understand but now, I think people want more and dancers want more, want to speak Tahitian, want to understand more, I think it's a new movement now, we want to know more, not just the Ori Tahiti, we want to understand more with the Ori Tahiti.

Tahitian expert dancer, Poemoana.

Tahitian expert dancer, Poemoana. Photo: Mareikura Brightwell