Tahitian dance is the most well known of all the dance forms of the Polynesian Triangle in the South Pacific. It shares many of the historical roots that hula does in Hawaii; in Tahiti dance was used as an expression of their culture. They had dances to express different occasions, legends and customs. But unlike hula, these dances are extremely energetic, almost athletic. And as fast as the lower part of the body has to move, the upper body rarely moves except for hand gesture. Both men and women dance Tahitian, separately and together, but have different styles and moves. But one thing that is the same is the costuming. It’s amazing!, and half the enjoyment of watching of the dance. The Tahitian dance competition I attended recently brought all the best dancers in the State of Hawaii. All age groups were represented, and you’ve not seen cute until you’ve seen a 6 year old Tahitian performer all dressed up and waiting to go on stage. I could see that the elaborate headdresses worn by men and women were hand made of local flowers and greenery. It seemed one was even more elaborate than the next, and all a natural way to express their heritage.

Examples of imaginative head dresses and Tahitian costume at a dance competition in Hawaii.

Here’s little known fact about me # 11 – I take Tahitian dance classes. have for several years now. I first saw Tahitian dance performed at the I Love Kailua Festival. I was enthralled and even though I had not taken a dance class since I was in my early 20’s, I signed myself up at a local halau ( for dance instructions). And fortunately/unfortunately the only class available was the ADVANCED, full of women half my age. Talk about biting off more than I could chew/move! It was such a leap of faith on the part of both my kumu (teacher) and me. I went, I suffered, I died of exhaustion, I ached, I sweated, but I grew h3er and I learned. And had more fun than I have had in years!

To pull this post into shopping, I will say I had a good time going around the display tables filled with Polynesian items for sale. I was really taken with the jewelry. I’ve enjoyed most Hawaiian inspired jewelry here, but these items seems to stand out with their own inpiduality and flash. With all the shopping I’ve done here, I have not often seen this type of merchandise for sale except maybe at certain craft sales. And hidden amongst the necklaces and such were also very nice Tahitian Pearls. There were also a different take on the Hawaiian’ muumuu, made a little more edgy and young. These pieces would be fun to wear to dinner or beach walks.

Wonderful variety of pearl and shell jewelry plus clothes for mom and daughter.

These types of competitions are not widely advertised around the island, so there’s good chance people here on Hawaii Vacations would never know about them. For those visitors who want to branch out to this type of local event, I would guarantee you’ll be talking about it to your friends back home. Or even showing off a necklace that is a WOW!. I do know that there will be another Tahitian event on the North Shore sometime this summer. So think about that if you have a trip planned. Maybe it’ll inspire you, like it did me to take up a new hobby/activity. My Kumu just told me this week that she’s glad I’m on stage when there is a performance to act as her senior’ ambassador for the dance – letting everyone know that if I can do it, you can too!

Heiva I O’ahu 2011 took place at King Intermediate Gym on March 26, 2011
hosted by Te Vai Ura Nui, Directors Charles and Cathy Temanaha. More information about this and future events is available on the “tevaiuranui” website or Facebook page.


  1. Mahalo Kathy for doing this! I really appreciate it =) I had so much fun at the competition! Glad you could join us. Yes, these events aren't widely advertised (which I think it should be because it is such a beautiful dance and culture) and I think more people should know about it. Mahalo again!

  2. These Tahitian dancers are absolutely amazing!  I really don't understand how they can move their bodies like that.  They're super-star athletes!

  3. Awesome, Tahitian dance is just amazingly beautiful! Thanks for the great pictures and video. I agree with Abby…super athletes!  How do they do that??

  4. Watching them dance IS amazing.. and should be considered a sport as such  – the conditioning it must take!  I know some of this when I have to dance in my own class.   I have developed muscles in places I never had before.   And I love the jewelry!  thanks for reading.

  5. Paul, it's like their bodies have two different parts!  amazing.
    Nancy, I was disappointed I had to leave before the groups danced.  would have been wonderful spectacle.
    I"m going to try to go to the one on NS this summer

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