World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Hui Tama Nui

DANCE ORIGIN: Tahiti, French Polynesia
Ori Tahiti, Ori Rau (Contemporary)
Aaron Sencil
First Appearance in SF EDF:

Hui Tama Nui is the professional dance company of the newly formed non-profit organization, the Conservatory of Polynesian Performing Arts. The Artistic director is Aaron Sencil. Hui Tama Nui specializes in traditional and contemporary Tahitian dance and music. The company creates original avant-garde performances, understanding the culture’s dance and music as an evolving performing art.


Hui Tama NuiTITLE: Rumia
GENRE: Ori Rau (Contemporary Tahitian Dance)
CHOREOGRAPHERS: Monica Bermudez, Von Parsario, Lorenzo Schmidt, Angela Sencil, Teiki Villant
Carlos Acosta, Tshon Ambrose, Melanie Amen, Sean Amen, Kehinde Apara, Jamie Aranda, Remie Aranda, Rochelle Arcega, Christine Balingit, Crystal Balingit, Joemar Baniaga, Virginia Batac, Heather Bell, Colie Berbano, Mia Berrios, Dominique Bouknight, Leana Pakela Bremond, Melanie Brignoli, Chanel Calipes, Narissa Cepeda, Anisa Cervantes, Amihan David, Jill De Los Angeles, Lora Kehaulani Dinga, Phoebe, ’Alohi Dinga, PuraFe Eastman, Dawn Faoliu, Sammy Faoliu, Janeth Figueroa, Denise Garner, Lynn Hernandez, Ita Iopu, Makana Iulio, Avie Koot, Jessica Maestas, Norm Munoz, Genica Ocampo, Cheena Palma, Nicholle Panganiban, Von Parsario, Diamond Pederson, Shanna Pineda, Azyha Quidit, Jeremy Rogan, Angela Sencil, Monica Bermudez, Gillian Taganas, Vincent Tanciongco, Michelle Tarleton, Pea Ulufatu, Gail Vasquez, Catherine Villalon
Mark Adam (fa’atete), Gil Ambrose (pahu tupa’i), Mark Amen (to’ere), Matthew Amen (pahu), Kevin Na’eahau Farey (pahu tupa’i), Keith Garner (pahu), Genji Lim (pahu tupa’i), Dominic Somera (pahu tupa’i), Jojo Tabora (to’ere), Theo Tabora (to’ere)
VOCALISTS: Kevin Amen, Yolanda Amen, Alma Arcega, Jong Arcega, Arthur Bello, Millie Berrios, Vicki Corpus, Twinkle Concon Dela Cruz, Lani Cid Iulio, Chesa Palma, Noely Panganiban


From French Polynesia and San Francisco, over eighty dancers and musicians  celebrate peace and love, tradition and diversity. Rumia is named for the dark egg in which Ta‘aroa, the Tahitian god of creation, sat before breaking his bounds and creating the land, sea, moon, and stars. In this modern interpretation, bound, mute, and blind dancers break out of their shells. They celebrate self-discovery, and then return to community and tradition. The piece asks: Who will you become when you leave this shell? and ends with a prayer for acceptance: Ia fa- mai te anu‘anu‘a! Let the rainbow shine!

Contemporary Tahitian dance—ori rau—merges tradition with contemporary
inspiration. Rumia references jazz and ballet as it presents the Tahitian forms:
‘aparima (interpretive hand-dance); ‘ote‘a vahine (women’s) dance with circular and side-to-side hip movements; ‘ote‘a tane (men’s) dance with scissor-like legs; and ‘ote‘a ‘amui Polynesian storytelling dance with percussion and rapid choreography. The music is also eclectic, as electric guitar and ‘ukulele meet Tahiti’s earliest chant and drumming on pahu, pahu tu pa‘i, and vivo flutes; as the ancient conch shell calls a contemporary choir-like ‘aparima song (composed by Aaron Sencil and Tahitian dance masters, Lorenzo Schmidt and Teiki Villant). The costumes evoke nearly everything: the delicate beginnings of life; Mother Earth’s raffia, tapa, and coconut bark; and today’s brightly-colored individuality. Ancient style Hura dress pulls us to tradition, with tamou headdresses of ancestral human hair and feather rosettes; and white finale costumes evoke a new day.

Rumia was conceived by Aaron Sencil and created by Hui Tama Nui’s directors
in collaboration with Les Grands Ballets de Tahiti. Mr. Sencil accounts for the
emotion in this performance: “Our theme of rebirth inspired the dancers personally—some were coming out, others undergoing changes in marriages or careers. Singing about a coconut is one thing, but singing about your life is another.”


Title: Pepe Hau
Ori Rau (Contemporary)
Choreographers: Aaron Sencil, Angela Sencil,
Monica Sencil Bermudez
Angelica Ambrose, Crystal Balingit, Virginia Batac, Heather Bell, Mia Berr,
Emily Bertumen, Jenna Bianco, Peejay Braganza,
Chanel Calipes, Narissa Cepeda, Amihan David,
Jill De Los Angeles,
JJ Del Rosario, Cezar Falconitin,
Denise Garner, Stephanie Herbert, Joyce Hernandez, Marilynn Hernandez, Ita Iopu, Alexis Kissinger, Avanie Koot, Genica Ocampo, Von Parsario, Ayzha Quidit, Nini Satele-Ambrose, Tshon Satele-Ambrose, Angela Sencil, Monica Sencil Bermudez, Dominic Somera, Monique Somera, Michaela Spinoso, Gillian Taganos, Vincent Tanciongco, Michelle Tarleton, Vaega Ulufatu, Catherine Villalon, Malia Villanueva, Erica Winterburn
Mark Adam, Calvin Agustin, Gil Ambrose, Amanda Caban, Olin Caban, Cohen Guzman, Aaron Sencil, Jojo Tabora, Theo Tabora 

In Tahitian mythology Pepe Hau is the moth. Sometimes it is the dark-winged shadow of the god Tu, and sometimes the spiritual messenger who travels by keen eyesight in the dark. Choreographers Aaron Sencil, Monica Sencil Bermudez, and Angela Sencil of Hui Tama Nui created this dance in ori rau (contemporary Tahitian dance style) to revive the moth's importance as a Tahitian symbol, and also to honor its place in the world's fragile ecosystem. The original choreography also features authentic interpretations of dance forms acculturated by two hundred years of European influence—the tāmūrē couples dance; the pā‘ō‘ā sitting dance; and the circular hivinau dance.  

The opening chant tells how the world was filled with the dead, so the greatest Tahitian god, Ta’aroa, summoned the god Tū to create Pepe Hau. Lost souls march in darkness, until their spirits follow the moths to the peaceful next world. The remaining sections are: ‘Ōte’a Vahine Pepe Hau and ‘Ōtea Tāne Pepe Hau: the journey begins; ‘Ōtea Vahine Pua e Uaahia: the flowers awaken and the moths feed & linger; ‘Aparima Pepe Hau e Pua: the moths are lured by the sweet scent of nectar in the moonlight; Pā’ōā: the rejoicing moths flutter and pollinate the flowers; Haka: the moths fly bravely into the night as divine messengers; ‘Ōtea Vahine Ahi: light and fire attract the moths; ‘Ōtea Amui: the love between fire and moth; Hivinau: Moths are burned by their mysterious, timeless love for fire.

The costumes are moss, leaves, coconut shells, pampas grass, and fara leaves. Headpieces, hip-bands, and skirts are coconut, mulberry, and hibiscus bark, symbolizing the moth's habitats. Tiger-eye shells refer to night vision and to “eyes” on moth wings, and face-paint honors a lost Tahitian art. The music has also gone green, inspired by forest sounds, and played on the ancient to’ere, a hollow bamboo drum; the pahu tūpa’i rima hand drum; the ‘ihara split-bamboo snare; and the vivo three-hole nose flute. The women chant in ancient Tahitian.


TITLE: Niu: The Tree of Life
GENRE: Ori Tahiti
CHOREOGRAPHERS: Aaron Sencil, Angela Sencil, Monica Sencil, Adrian DeCastro
DANCERS: Angelica Ambrose, Tshon Ambrose, Rochelle Arcega, Nate Badillo, Christine Balingit, Crystal Balingit, Mia Berrios, Emily Bertumen, Trina Caballero, Kristin Cabiles, Raechelle Caluya, Khrishna Canlas, Francisco Cano, Myra Cano, Narissa Cepeda, Brittney Clark, Jackie Dearco, Adrian DeCastro, Kiana Didasa, Cezar Falconitin, Dawn Faoliu, Lyman Faoliu, Jr., Lyman Faoliu, Sr., Sam Faoliu, Agnes Fernandez, Candace Fernandez, Stephanie Herbert, Lynn Hernandez, Ita Iopu, Keanna Layug, Simone Ledward, Kierra Lizama, Brianna Maestas, Sheree Marcos, Von Parsario, Diamond Peterson, Justin Reymundo, Glenn Salonga, Angela Sencil, Monica Sencil, Kresta Tabaranz, Vincent Tanciongco, Pe’a Ulufata, Konoi Villanueva, Malia Villanueva, Spencer Villanueva, Erica Winterburn
MUSICIANS: Sam Almira (drummer), Gil Ambrose (drummer), Crystal Boqurin (singer), Eric Boqurin (drummer), Dean DeCastro (drummer), Lee Fernandez (drummer), Pat Flores (singer), Aris Garcia (singer), Gary Minataka (drummer), Chris Pulido (drummer), Aaron Sencil (drummer)

In Tahiti, the coconut tree, known as niu, is considered the “tree of life” for its abundant gifts it offers to human beings. The Tahitian people use virtually every part of the tree. The trunk is used to build drums, ukuleles, paddles, and houses; the fiber bark to make strong rope and fuel for fire; the leaves are woven into baskets, fans, bowls, hats, and fish nets; while the shell is used to make musical instruments, cups, bra tops, and charcoal. Coconut meat and milk provide a delectable ingredient in many Tahitian dishes, and the oil provides a natural medicinal ointment, hair conditioner, and skin tonic.

Hui Tama Nui celebrates, honors and gives thanks to the coconut tree in Niu: The Tree of Life. Every aspect of the dance represents some element of this bountiful fruit tree and its ancient life cycle. The presentation opens with a typical oration, or, ’orero, dedicating the dance to the three original trees from which all coconut trees come. This is followed by a group dance incorporating two traditional dance styles, the pa’oa and the hivinau. Symbolizing the beauty that the coconut oil brings to Tahitian people, men are depicted climbing the tree and women collecting leaves and fallen coconuts. A dance with younger children follows representing the new life of the tree once it is cut down, and the presentation concludes with ’aparima, a dance expressed through singing.

The handmade costumes are constructed entirely out of coconut materials with the exception of the hibiscus bark skirt and some flowers. The bright green fabric of the children’s skirt represent the young coconut husk symbolizing new life.

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