Monday, July 09, 2007

What are the Tahiti Fete and Heiva judges looking for? Part I

What are the judges looking for in a Tahiti Fete performance? With many of the competitions happening now or in the next month or so, this is a question that dancers and dance groups might be thinking about right about now.

There are the basics and then there are details that can make the difference in being awarded a placement and impressing not only the judges but also the crowd or performing without heart. We look at it this way - if you've been able to learn a new move, perfect a motion, created a new choreographed selection, learned a new Tahitian word or song, bent a little lower while doing the tamure, paoti or other basic steps, then you've helped to perpetuate and make each Tahitian dance event that more better. After all, if there weren't any groups to perform, there wouldn't be any events.

That being said, here's a reminder for all those Ori Tahiti dancers out there about what the judges are typically looking for in a performance:

1. The Entrance: The initial appearance of the dancer(s) on the performance area and the first impression created as the performer(s) begin the presentation. Basically, your performance begins before your performance. Watch your posture. If confidence can be shared among the group and shown to the judges, you're half way there in impressing them. The entrance should say to the judges that you are there to win, have fun and enjoy the opportunity to perform.

2. Personal Appearance: The physical presentation of the performer(s) including grooming and cleanliness. Make-up, if used, should only be applied to subtly enhance the natural beauty of the dancer(s). Basically, if you show up with a make-over from MAC complete with glittery lipstick and make-up that just won't quit, you might want to reconsider toning it down a bit. If you show up with costumes that don't match or are worn in an array of unrelated styles, you should look into making things match or complement each other.

3. Costume: The completeness of the the attire worn by the dancer(s) during the performance. Costumes are judged according to the appropriateness for the dance performed, coordination of adornments, accessories and neatness. Generally speaking, judges frown on PLASTIC materials. Think about what Tahitians used to use to adorn themselves. If you're not in the tropics, then see if you can substitute with local ferns, leaves or flowers. You can also send away for the greenery but it can get expensive. Feathers are always an option, fishing nets, dried leaves and flowers can be used in some of the most striking costumes as well. One last thing about costumes – make sure everything is secure. Judges (not to mention the stage crew) like to see that you took the care to secure your costume.

4. Feet: Position of the feet and the ease with which the dancer(s) moves relative to the choreography and styling of the dance performed. Doing the dance correctly can often mean that you are needing to put less effort into the dance than if you dance it incorrectly. With correct feet positioning you can make the dance seem naturally and right.

5. Hips: The Vahine need rotation and accented movement of the hips. If you can make it a natural skill and make it look like a natural skill, the judges look to see the ease in which you peform this basic. And remember, it impresses the judges all the more if you are in a group and all the hips move in the same direction at the same time. This is a huge undertaking when you have fast movements but if the basics are strong, you should have an easier time coordinating. For the Tane, hips should remain relatively stationary without any exaggerated movement.

6. Arms/Hands: GRACE. The position and movement of the arms and hands relative to the nature and performance of the dance. Arm motions and hand gestures should be large and punctuated by quick changes and performed with feminine grace. Also, if a movement requires large motions, always remember to... extend, just like in Hawaiian hula. For the Tane, arm and hand gestures should be strong and masculine in a performance.

7. Facial Expression: The facial conveyance and meaningful depiction of feelings, thought, mood, or sentiment relative to the performance. If you have a celebration in your dance remember that it IS a celebration. It's a story that you are telling the world.

As you can see, there are a... few things to consider when competing in a Heiva or Tahiti Fete. Look for more criteria coming next week with the second half of the pointers and suggestions.

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