This is part 4 of a 5 part series delving into the origins of the modern version of Tahitian dance.
By Eric Ka’ahele Morales
In constructing the ‘ahuroa, Roiti and Tavana worked together to create a more formal looking dance that, as Roiti states, was simply “another excellent number for the show.” Using the ‘aparima himene as a guide, they decided on a number of specifications that their version of the dance would follow. First off, only female dancers would participate, and these dancers were then each given a long, elegant dress that was form fitted, with sleeves, and ruffles.
In terms of music, it differed in a few distinct aspects. First and foremost, the dance was performed with a slower tempo. By reducing the tempo of the music, the ‘ahuroa looked similar to the hula ‘auana (modern hula). Aware of this correlation, they decided that the Tahitian song used be done to a waltz time as an added means of differentiating the two styles. Otherwise, the manner of gesturing, the type of the lyrics of the song, and the content that usually appeared in an ‘aparima hīmene were the same. According to Roiti, because of this, the learning of the actual dance was relatively simple: “By the time we started the show, we just learned the number.”
The original innovations introduced to the ‘aparima hīmene to make it the ‘ahuroa were then: the exclusion of men, costuming, a slower tempo, and a waltz.