Thursday, September 25, 2008

Open Call - Calling all Tahitian dancers

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is a cultural icon in America and also the unofficial kickoff of the Christmas/Holiday season. Millions of people watch this time honored tradition each year and each year groups from around the country are able to showcase their hometowns, ethnicities and groups.

This year, Manutahi Tahiti, one of Hawaii's leading Tahitian dance groups, led by Ra'atira - Pola Teriipaia, has been invited to perform in the 2009 parade. As much as they'd like to send enough of their dancers, they are looking for more dancers to participate. Dancers from all over Hawaii and as far as Orlando, Florida are participating, so distance isn't necessarily an issue. Fundraising efforts are in full swing, including selling their new 2009 Tahitian dance calendar. Dancers, drummers and musicians interested in participating should contact Pola Teriipaia at (808) 222-4346 or email her for details.

The trip to New York also will involve several performances in and around the Eastern seaboard during the holiday weekend including a performance on the grounds of the White House in Washington DC. It's a great opportunity to showcase the Tahitian dance and culture to a national audience and represent the Tahitian dance community.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Free admission to Tahiti Fete of Utah

Once again the organizers of the Tahiti Fete of Utah are offering free admission to their upcoming event on Friday and Saturday, October 17-18, 2008. The annual event, now in its fourth year has been chaired by Mata'u Tuivaiti and enjoys gracious sponsorships that allow for offering the event to everyone for free. That's right. I said, FREE. Activities will be taken place at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City, Utah.

The event was originally started by Mata'u's sister Upuia Sagapolu & her aunty, Dofi Faasou. "We wanted to bring back the old Tahitian way of dancing, not so much the modern... We sought out Iona "Papi" Teriipaia's help & support."

Registration is now open and information is available on their official website. For more information and applications, call (UCAP) Utah Community Association for Pacific Islanders. (801) 918-1052 or (801) 953-9877 or

For groups in the area and soloists who want to tryout their new routines, this event is a great opportunity to compete and not have to raise funds to pay to participate. For groups outside of Utah, it is an opportunity to compete with other groups that you may not have competed against in the past. At any rate, it sets the stage to up the excitement.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Tarena Tahiti update

Elizabeth Bertumen, organizer of Tarena Tahiti, has announced that the Tarena Tahiti annual event is merging with the other Tahitian dance event that she produces each year - Te Aranui O Tahiti. Tarena Tahiti is a soloist competition that has taken place in Daly City, CA for the past several years.

In moving the event, it allows for a both a soloist and group format. Te Aranui O Tahiti is a group event taking place in San Francisco, CA at the San Francisco State University Gymnasium. Next year's combined event will take place April 25-26, 2009. The event also features workshops conducted by leading Tahitian dance, music and drumming instructors Roiti Sylva and Coco Hotahota.

Elizabeth explains:

"Te Aranui O Tahiti is a non-competitive Tahitian Festival for groups to exhibit their dance and music dedicated exclusively to the Tahitian culture. The structure of the festival is rather unique. Usually, in competitions groups performed continuously (except for lunch) the whole day (8 hours or more). Friends and family all come to enjoy the festivities but mainly to support and watch their favorite group(s). To do this, they have to sometimes sit all day just to watch their group. Te Aranui O Tahiti was designed similiar to watching your favorite movie. A designated hour is dedicated to 2 groups each performing a 30 minute program."

She goes on to explain that "...people can just buy tickets for the specific group they want to watch. It really is less stressful for everyone and of course people can choose to watch as many groups they want but at least does not have to sit through the whole day waiting. You have a more appreciative audience when they come to specifically to enjoy their group of choice."

It's this attention to detail that has allowed this event to grow and led to the decision to combine the events, now being able to complement both group and solo entries.

"Tarena Tahiti is a competition. It works 2-fold (Costume & Solo Competition). It is a costume competition (Parade of Costumes) where dancers display their choice of costume (no dancing), formal or informal a la Tahitienne. There is no limitation on creativity which makes for some fantastic results."

"The second part is solo dance (Ori) where not only is their costume evaluated but their dance skills as well. In essence, it is a complete package in that not only can you dance but also have a creative/personal style in dress. Tarena Tahiti (Tahitian Calendar) has 12 winners for representing the months of the year with the highest one scored in Costume and Solo Dance is the Cover and 1st place winner. Tarena is divided into 3 editions: Tamarii (Children 5-12 yrs), Junior (13-17 yrs), Adult (18 yrs +) each with 12 winners. This gives allowance to more dancers getting their rightful recognition rather than limiting it to just 1st, 2nd & 3rd."

"Te Aranui O Tahiti is an excellent venue for groups to exhibit performers of all levels from beginners to advance without being judged. It is one of the few venues where groups can congregate freely in a non-competitive environment."

Check back later for more updates as this event announces more information.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Manutahi Calendar fundraiser and more

We're always looking for ways to visually share our love for Tahitian dance. Last week we were contacted by Pola Teriipaia, ra'atira of Manutahi Tahiti and she broke the news of an exciting new calendar fundraiser that they are producing. Soon to be available in select stores in Hawaii and at our Black Pearl Designs online store (so you can pick it up anywhere, anytime), this calendar features dancers from her group in tropical backdrops and doing what they love best... dancing. Shot on location in Hawaii, the calendars are $10 and profits go towards the groups' nonprofit scholarship program.

In addition to the exciting announcement, Auntie Pola also announced the dates for the 2nd Annual Manutahi Tahiti Competition - April 18-19, 2009 (check out all the dates for all the Heiva's). Activities will once again be hosted by Waimea Valley. Details about the event will be available shortly. This is a solo competition set the to backdrop of the lush tropical greenery of Waimea Valley on the North Shore of Oahu.

For those who are not part of Manutahi, the calendar is a great way to show off your love for the Tahitian culture and dance all year long.

Last but not least, possibly one of the most highly visible venues for Tahitian dance in recent years is coming to Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this November. Auntie Pola, along with Iwalani Tseu, are working to get a group of dancers to perform in the parade. Members from the Oahu and Maui branches as well as the Texas group are currently practicing for the event. It's a historical moment and a great opportunity for exposing more people to the culture. If you would like more information or would like to participate, contact Pola Teriipaia (808 222-4346) directly.