NATIONAL/ETHNIC IDENTITY: Tahitian
The rugged island of Tahiti is part of the Society Islands, also known as French Polynesia. Of volcanic origin, this grouping of islands in the South Pacific have been called "paradise on earth" by many a traveler. In ancient times the Arioi, a special society that traveled from island to island, danced for great chiefs and their villages. The rich, vibrant culture that the Arioi left behind provides the inspiration for the dances performed by 'Ote'a 'Api. Anthony Waipa Manaois, Director of 'Ote'a 'Api has over 20 years experience in Tahitian Dance.
TITLE OF PIECE: Te Aho Ora, Te Hau! (The
Life, the Peace!)
The piece in the 2004 Festival, Te Aho Ora, Te Hau is a kind of prayer. It is an appeal of a higher order performed to two chants meaning, "the Breath of Life, The Peace." The first song honors the special Northeast wind, Maoa'e rai aneane. It alludes to the people asking the wind to blow long and strong filling their bodies, souls, homes and families with peace. The second song affirms that peace must first begin inside our self. It calls to mind the love that gets passed on from parent to child, and how that love starts with the first breath of the child.
The vivid yellow and white colors of the costumes adorned with greenery represent four cardinal elements: the sky, the sun, the wind, and the earth. The costumes are made of materials found specifically in Tahiti. These include special feathers, mother of pearl, and bark from the hau tree, a kind of hibiscus plant. The instruments accompanying the dance are also made from elements in the natural environment: a hollowed log, bamboo, and skin. It is believed that each instrument creates the mana, or spirited energy that is needed to drive the rhythm and tempo of the dance.