September was our Tahiti/French Polynesia Heritage month! It was filled learning about the Tahitian culture through crew lessons, dance and through music.
Our 4/5 graders learned an Otea dance routine choreographed by Kumu Ele and Kumu Krystle. The otea is a traditional dance from Tahiti characterized by rapid hip-shaking movements to percussion accompaniment. The hip movements include but are not limited to, the fa’arapu, varu (figure 8), tamau (hips moving side to side), etc. The dance is performed to the beat of the Tahitian drums at a fast rhythm, and no singing. The drum can be one of the different types of the tōʻere, a lying log of wood with a longitudinal slit, which is struck by one or two sticks. Additional drum types accompanying the dance may include the pahu (the ancient Tahitian, standing drum covered with a shark skin and struck by the hands or with sticks) played at a slower rhythm, or the smaller faʻatētē drum.
Our 6/7 graders performed an aparima dance. The aparima is often described as "dancing with the hands", the 'aparima tells a story through established motifs. A typical 'aparima theme would be a love story layered in metaphor. Dancers wear simple but elegant pareu or malo wraps, and sing to the accompaniment of guitar and 'ukarere, Tahitian banjo. The dance that they performed was called Tahiti, Tahiti by Na Wai Ho'olulu O Ke Anuenue. The dance talks about the love of Tahiti. It describes the beautiful women and men from Tahiti, the homes in Bora Bora and the smell of the Tiare flower. This dance was choreographed by Krystle Fetaui.
Our 8th graders performed another aparima as well called, Te Pua No'a No'a. This dance talks about a fragrant flower of Ahurai and Fanatea, which are two mountains in Tahiti. The flower is used to make a lei to welcome the young beautiful ladies. This dance was choreographed by Krystal Fetaui. Our boys performed an Ote'a number.
We were also pleased to be entertained by a professional group from Tahiti called "Tiare Here." They are currently residing in Kearns, Utah. The group graced us with their otea numbers!
We also had a Tahitian expert teach us more about the Tahitian culture. Her name is Leoni Raihauti. She currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah.
We are thankful and grateful for all those who took a part in making our first festival a success.