Tahitian Dance Fundamentals
There are two basic movements in Tahitian dance: tahiri (sometimes spelled “tairi”) and tatue, which is also called otamu. The five basic steps involved in Ori Tahiti, as they are taught in the Polynesia Art Conservatoire, along with all other variations and step combinations are derived from these two basic movements.
These dance techniques provide the student with a method for marking rhythm, which is a concept of the human body in motion that represents the movement of the universe. This is true for all styles of dance, not only Tahitian dancing.
The “Maohi” universe (i.e. “Polynesian in the general sense) is not at all synthetic and actually completely analytical.
When it comes to dance movement, this form is expressed with an extreme complexity that cannot be seen at first glance, as well as by choreographed movements that pile steps upon one another with sporadic rhythm.
This complexity is likely the reason for the quasi non-existence of teaching skills in Tahitian dance.
Dance is often passed on by immersion. As dance instructors, we show individuals how to complete the steps and, at best, we correct our students by saying:
Students are often not given explanations unless they ask for them specifically.
However, students will learn a multitude of dance steps once they reach an appropriate level.
Years of practice are a requirement in reaching this advanced skill, and it is not possible for everyone to achieve this level of success in Tahitian dance, despite the fact that dance is widely practiced throughout Polynesia as both leisure and sport.