How to do tahitian dancing

Tahitian Dance - Authentic Dance — London School of Hula and 'Ori

What Is The Difference Between Tahitian Dance And Hula?

Tahitian dance is called ‘Ori Tahiti and Hawaiian dance is called Hula.

Many people mistake the Tahitian dance, ‘Ori Tahiti, for Hawaiian dance, Hula, or assume they are both the same style, but each of these dances are from different Polynesian islands and have their own identities.

Both 'Ori Tahiti and Hula were a vital part of life in ancient times and were present in religious ceremonies and rituals, social gatherings and celebrations, and everyday life. Prior to the arrival of written word, song and dance were used by the people to pass down information about their history and traditions. Every dance contains knowledge and information presented as story.

There are many different types of dances within 'Ori Tahiti and Hula. At LSHO, we focus on the Tahitian styles of 'ōte'a and 'aparima and the Hawaiian styles of Hula Kahiko and Hula 'auana.

At the London School of Hula and ‘Ori, we provide authentic Tahitian dance, or ‘Ori Tahiti as well as Hawaiian Hula classes to students who are interested in and passionate about these traditional and contemporary Polynesian dances and with our teachers and guest teachers guiding you during dance classes and workshops, you will quickly learn the differences between the two dances and how to perform each of them correctly.

The Types Of Tahitian Dance

There are different types of dances in Tahitian culture. These dances have different movements and presentations, but each one has a rich history behind it and is an important aspect of Tahitian culture. At LSHO we mainly focus on the ‘ōte’a and the ‘aparima.

‘Ōte’a: A Tahitian Traditional Dance

This is the most recognisable dance with male and female dancers powerful movement to the beating of the drums.

The 'Aparima: Where the Hands Tell the Story

The 'aparima tends to be slower more graceful movements, set to stringed instruments with the performers’ hands telling a story.

The recognisable Tahitian dance, the ʻōteʻa, is fast-paced and accompanied by the lively beating of drums– typically the tariparau, the fa’atete , and the to’ere drums– and the female movements incorporate the unmistakable fa'arapu, which is the quick rotation of the hips. Because it is energetic by nature, people see this dance as a great way to boost their physical fitness.
If you want to stay in shape by doing an exciting and aerobic exercise, we at the London School of Hula and ‘Ori highly recommend taking up our Tahitian dance classes!

On the other hand, the Hula dance can be more graceful and gentle. While engaging the use of hips, the focus is on the arm gestures, each with their own meaning, reflecting the chants and songs that accompany the dance. Hula can either be slow or fast, depending on the accompanying music, but even the faster Hula are not typically as fast as the Tahitian ʻōteʻa. However, this does not mean that you won’t get a great workout by dancing the Hula! The exercise style of the Hula is a deep workout. In our Hula dance classes, you will experience a meditative and soulful experience that focuses on maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health.

The Types Of Hawaiian Dance

Hula 'Auana

Hula 'Auana is the contemporary style of Hula and is often graceful, soothing, and emotive.

Hula Kahiko

Hula Kahiko is the ancient style of dance. It can be very dynamic and powerful.

The History Of Tahitian And Hula Dance

Here at London School of Hula and ‘Ori, we will teach you some of the important events that happened in Polynesian history. Knowing a dance’s history is important as it deepens your connection to the dance’s culture and makes for a more connected presentation.

Nowadays, anyone in the United Kingdom and beyond can learn how to perform Polynesian dances online just by registering for Hula and Tahitian dance classes London you can sign up for a foundation course in our Tahitian dance school.

Our comprehensive classes and workshops can provide you with an in-depth understanding of Tahitian and Hawaiian history, tradition, and culture, as well as improve your storytelling, performance, technique and fitness as a dancer.

If you want to learn how to dance Tahitian (‘Ori Tahiti) and Hawaiian (Hula) dances, get in touch with us and join our exciting and fun classes!

If you are interested in taking up Tahitian dance lessons, we are a group of enthusiastic and experienced Tahitian dance practitioners who can teach you everything from basic to complex dances.

If you’re interested in learning these dances, you can call us via 02080580450. For written enquiries, you may send us an email at [email protected]. One of our friendly representatives will be happy to accommodate you!

FAQ: 'Ori Tahiti & Hula

What is Polynesian dancing?

Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of more than 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean.  The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians, sharing many similar traits including language family, culture, and beliefs. Within Polynesia and its many islands, there are many different styles of dance and, though they are loosely related, they all have their own identities. Here at London School of Hula and 'Ori, we practice dances from Hawai'i (Hula) and Tahiti ('Ori).

Though a commonly used term, 'Polynesian dance' is a bit of a misnomer as the dances of Polynesia are incredibly varied. Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of more than 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. Within Polynesia and its many islands, there are many different styles of dance. Though they are loosely related, they are all very different with their own identities. Here at London School of Hula and 'Ori, we practice dances from Hawai'i (Hula) and Tahiti ('Ori).

What is the purpose of Tahitian dance?

Song and dance were a vital part of religious ceremonies and rituals, warrior training, social celebrations, and everyday life.
'Singing and dancing were synonymous with festivities, as in modern times, and joyous performances were given during heiva. Traditionally dance was performed as a group and it’s interesting to note that in western society dance is more often performed in couples. Dance was a part of any type of social event that brought people together: welcomings, send offs, marking a particular honor, or just for fun.'
Words by Manouche Lehartel 
Read more HERE 

This is a unique dance that has become important to the people of Tahiti and symbolised their way of life. If you want to attend Tahitian dance courses or are interested in traditional presentations, feel free to get in touch with us.

What is Tahitian dance called?

The modern name for Tahitian dance is 'Ori Tahiti. It comes from the islands of Tahiti but is commonly mistaken for Hula, which originates from the Hawaiian islands.

Both dances are performed by men and women alike and represent activities and emotions of everyday life.

During our video classes, you can learn Tahitian dance online as well as Hula dance online.

What do Tahitian dancers wear?

When performing the Tahitian dance, 'Ori Tahiti, costumes are an essential part of the storytelling. Each part of the costume contains meaning and relates to the overall story and performance. Costumes are often made with shredded purau bark and include a long more skirt or fabric pāreu. The female top can be made of leaves and flowers, coconut shells, or cloth, while the men are typically bare-chested with a loincloth maro.

Why do Hawaiians dance the Hula?

Ancient Hawaiians performed Hula dance for religious purposes, warrior training, honoring monarchs, and at social events. Today, the dance is more commonly performed by Polynesian show experts to entertain and educate.

What do you wear to a Hula class?

Students who attend Hula classes and cultural presentation lessons usually wear a close-fitting tank top or T-shirt with pa'u skirt. You can purchase a pa'u skirt through our website, or make your own– there are many tutorials online. It is also acceptable to wear a pāreu or a sarong, or anything comfortable to move in, if you do not own a pa'u skirt.

Is Hula dancing good exercise?

Hula has a slow and relaxing nature that resonates with many dancer's souls. It is a deep, meditative exercise and it can ease the strain on the joints.

Hula dance at a recreational level is considered a low to medium impact exercise. It is great for strengthening your back, hips, abs, and legs.

Our classes are great for all ages, all fitness levels, all abilities and all who want to dance!

What are the important elements of Hula?

Hula dance was a way to document the Polynesians’ historical events and lifestyle before written language. Through the Hula, various stories and themes about mythology, creation, everyday life, and more were conveyed.

We could write so much about this, but join us in class to learn more!

Tahiti Dance Fitness, Tahitian Dance & Fitness, Ori Tahiti, Weight Loss

Tahiti Dance Fitness (TDF) is a complete dance training program for All Women of All Ages, and All Levels who are looking for a beautiful empowering dance activity that strives towards self-awareness and self-love while embracing their power of femininity. TDF is for All Women looking for a fun work out that has a deeper meaning.

Tahitian Dance “Ori Tahiti” originates from the sacred cultural roots of the island of Tahiti, nestled amongst the Polynesian islands. One of the many meaningful purposes of the practice of this cultural dance is to celebrate life and our emotions.

TDF offers two type of training: TAHITI FITNESS classes, blending Tahitian moves with fitness songs, ideal for a great and effective cardio workout and for Beginners and/or  TAHITI DANCE classes, the authentic traditional Tahitian Dance “Ori Tahiti” 

TDF combines all the fitness components of cardio workout, muscular preparation, balance, flexibility, grace, femininity and energy for an absolute wellbeing after each session.

TDF is also the first Polynesian Dance school that initiated Tahitian Dance in Singapore and South East Asia, bringing the innovation of two new styles of classes – “Tahiti Dance” and “Tahiti Fitness” – in the world, since 2009.

Come Join the Fun and Reach us in Singapore, Online… or wherever you are!

Tahiti Dance

Discover the beautiful art of Authentic Traditional Tahitian Dance also called “Tamure” or “Ori Tahiti” from Tahiti, French Polynesia. Learn all about the sensual moves of Polynesian dances while getting a great cardio workout during one of Tahiti Dance Classes. All Levels are welcome.

Tahiti Fitness

Are you looking to Stay in Shape? Then Tahiti Fitness might be for you! Join along for a Fun Cardio class targeting abs & gluteus, burning 500-700 Calories per session! Come Smile & Sweat learning a dance fitness routine that blends all the Tahitian "Ori Tahiti" Basics steps with a Low Impact yet effective Fat burning Cardio & Body Toning Work out program!

Wellness & Giving

Join our Community and have access to Wellness tips and Events. Every year we host meaningful events and have our Performances and Shows contributing to Humanitarian and Ecology related projects.

Tahiti Dance Kids

We Build Graceful, Focused, Confident little Dancers through our Tahiti Dance Kids “Ori Tahiti” program. Classes start from 3 to 11 years old. (Kids & Teens).

“Tahitian Dance and fitness is good for stronger abs, legs & butt. Using Techniques from the traditional dance of Tahiti, this is a serious workout!”

Her World Fit & Fab Magazine (Singapore)


It has been a pleasure to work with such a Professional dance group. They were very accommodating and performances were amazing!Resort World Sentosa

The class itself is uplifting and the teachers ensure everyone is challenged and enjoys the classes, leaving them with drenched in sweat with a smile. This school itself embraces everyone who comes to the class, and shares their values of health, challenge and fitness. A real gem of a place, where both learning and teaching beyond the dance studio occurs.Kim J.Y. (Korea)

FUN FACTOR 9/10: You won’t get bored in this lively class. What’s not to love about laughing and shaking your assets without inhibition? FIT FACTOR 7/10: A great workout for the core, glutes and legs. Hello, stamina!Shape Magazine (Singapore Press Holdings)

Since joining 6 months ago, my daughters age 8 and 10 and I have enjoyed bonding time (…) We have made new friends and love the stress-free, warm atmosphere at TDF. My girls are able to focus better, improve memory from learning new choreography and they also love the fun way Tahitian Dance is taught in the kids’ class.Jean (Singapore)

I found the teaching to be incredibly competent and well-planned. The instructors and assistants set the tone for an encouraging and positive learning environment.Luana, Hawaiian Hula teacher (Hawaii)

It is amazing not only I’m losing weight but I know I’m winning my life back. I really cant wait to loose more lbs and kilos! Im on my way to a healthy and beautiful me.Raquel (Philippines)

O'te'a - sweet Tahitian obsession Online edition "Elements of Dance"

Imagine: unspoiled lands of tropical greenery, white sand beaches and crystal blue water, mountains overgrown with lush forests. Wherever you go in Tahiti, you are bound to meet the barefoot O'te'a dancers, who are the very embodiment of this spirit of the ocean that surrounds the island.

The dance and musical forms of the island have not changed over the centuries and continue to be passed down from generation to generation. The basis of Polynesian dances (and most of the inhabitants of Tahiti are Polynesians) is the emphasized beauty of the body, combined with the rhythms of nature itself.

O'te'a - fast movements of the hips and arms, but very plastic and sensual. It is typical for the dance that the movements of the hips are performed with precision for each beat of the drum, the beating of which is fast enough. The bass drum, covered with leather and ornamented in gold tones, is called the "Heartbeat of Tahiti", the smaller drums set higher tones, and this music is enough to make the dance come alive.

At first it seems that O'te'a is quite simple: legs slightly bent at the knees allow the hips to move freely in a fast rhythm, and all the viewer's attention is riveted on these parts of the dancers' bodies - the hips and buttocks. But the apparent lightness is deceptive: it is very difficult to achieve such plasticity and sensuality of movements, synchronization with the work of the hands and maintain for at least 3 minutes the clarity of hip beats, accurate hitting the rhythm of the drum and, at the same time, looseness of movements - it is very difficult. You notice that O'te'a performed by the Tahitians looks incendiary and natural, and all the attempts of European tourists to repeat a simple dance look, pardon me, a pathetic likeness.

Costumes are only gifts of nature
It seems that cheerful Polynesians simply cannot sit still, because they dance O'te'a so often that it is just right to envy us with our physical inactivity. In everyday life, this is a very popular entertainment, the dance is performed in wide skirts, bright pareos, light loose shorts of different lengths.

But the festive O'te'a is a real spectacle with costumes emphasizing the alluring movement of the hips. The tradition of creating these costumes is unchanged, just like the dance form, it is preserved and passed on from parents to children.

It is interesting that only natural materials from land and sea are used: fresh herbs, shells, natural fibers (which are brightly colored in red, yellow and other tones), bamboo leaves, flowers, skillfully crafted feathers.

In all its glory, O'te'a appears before the audience in July. At this time, Tahiti annually hosts Heiva - a festival of Polynesian dances. For 2 whole weeks, the best Thai dancers present this rare dance style and compete in their skills. Gorgeous costumes and a hot dance captivate the audience so much that the dancers have no end of those who want to immediately take an express master class.

The spectacle is colorful, playful, cheerful and very relaxed. Both men and women participate at the same time, but the dance is not paired. It is said to represent the celebration of love between spouses. And indeed music and sexuality go hand in hand here. While glossy magazines vying with each other come up with recommendations for us "How to refresh the experience in sex?" or “How to diversify married life?” – Tahitians just dance. From the fluids that come from women and men, the air simply rings. We suspect that the word "boredom" in family life...

Bellinezian: how to dance it | apsara-journal.


Borders in the world are becoming more and more blurred, globalization of cultures is coming. This also applies to the most exotic dances - as a result, quite unusual mixes appear. Sonia Ochoa, the lead singer of Bellydance Superstars, was inspired by Tahitian dance to create a belly dance fusion called Bellinesian , and also released an instructional DVD that caused quite a bit of controversy on the internet. Let's try to find the similarities and differences between these two dances, and also to find out whether the creator of the new style violated the sacred meaning of the Tahitian dance.

How the style was created

Sonya came up with the idea of ​​creating a fusion in 2007 after visiting a well-known Tahitian dance teacher Tumata Robinson in Tahiti. The bellydance dancer was struck by the similarity of the two dances: “Oriental dance is a universal means for expressing the human body. Dancers in Tahiti make movements similar to belly dancing. Therefore, these two exotic and sensual dances naturally enter into a “marital union,” Sonya begins her story. "The result of the fusion of these two dances is a beautiful and unique fusion - the Bellinesian style."

Similarities and differences

Indeed, there are surprisingly many similar movements in bellydance and Polynesian dance. For example, the spectacular “plate” known in oriental dance is exactly repeated in the basic movement of the Tahitian dance called “faarapu”. And "tamau" - another basic movement of Hawaiian dance, is very reminiscent of the oriental "rocking chair". It is also very similar that in both Hawaiian and Oriental dance the position of the upper body, with intense movements of the pelvis and hips, is kept as still as possible.

However, there are significant differences in these two dances, and one of the most important is the taboo on chest movements in Tahitian dance. The movements of the hands are also very different - in Hawaiian dance they mainly mean natural phenomena, for example, sunrise and sunset, greeting the forces of nature - many of these movements have a sacred meaning. The fingers in the Tahitian dance almost never open, but are pressed tightly together, including the thumbs. Also in the Tahitian dance, sharp turns of the head to the right and left are used, which can alternate with sharp blows of the hips. In the oriental dance, the head is made more rotation, "slides", throwing hair from side to side.

Combination of the incongruous

Sonia Ochoa combines these differences quite interestingly in her fusion. For example, she beautifully and gently combines the Hawaiian horizontal figure eight "waru" and the vertical figure eight "Mayan". And against the background of the “Tahitian” work with the hips, the dancer very unexpectedly “embeds” the Tahitian taboo - breast blows.

It is worth noting that, despite the similar hip movements in bellydance and Tahitian dance, there is a subtle difference between them. For example, the Tahitian “waru” movement resembling a horizontal “eight” is performed in a small squat, and the knees move in a larger amplitude compared to the oriental dance. As a result, the movement looks exactly “Tahitian”. However, how it will look depends to some extent on the costume worn by the dancer. For example, at the end of her "Introduction to Bellynesian" training DVD, Sonia and Tahitian dancer Moena seem to be doing the same moves, but on the dancer dressed in oriental costume they look "oriental", while on the dancer in "island" costume - Tahitian.

Costume and music

Sonya designed the costume for her mix style together with Tumata Robinson: they used a “grassy” skirt, and the belt and bodice were borrowed from an oriental dance, but with a Tahitian flavor. The Bellinesian dancer has an exotic flower in her hair, and a necklace of flowers or shells can be worn on her chest.

The music in the new Bellinesian fusion is mostly Tahitian and Hawaiian. Interesting music for the new style can be found in the works of Lorenzo Schmidt, the main choreographer of the world famous Tahitian group Les Grandes Ballets de Tahiti, which he creates in collaboration with composer Teika Willant.

hul a na x y lu

The exotic Bellinesian style is part of the Bellydance Superstars performance program, and the audience of the show enthusiastically welcomes this fusion. However, Sony's style causes a lot of criticism and even outrage on the Internet. Quite rightly, the dancer is reproached for the name of her fusion, because the ending “-esian” indicates its “Polynesian” roots. But Polynesian dances are a rather large group of dances of the peoples of Oceania, sometimes very different in movements and traditions that underlie them. Sonya uses mainly Tahitian dance and some elements of the Hawaiian Hula dance when creating the Mix.

Also, many accuse Sonya of “insulting the feelings of the Tahitians” and “breaking the fusion from the sacred roots and deep meaning of the Tahitian dance”, since it is sacred and expresses worship of the forces of nature. Many even call the Bellinesian "Hollywoodian", hinting that this is just a show for the idle viewer. But Sonya is in no hurry to make excuses: “I think it would be extremely interesting for oriental dancers to add Tahitian movements to their dance in order to develop their own special style. If Bellinesian gives the dancer the opportunity to expand her dance vocabulary, why not give it a try?

The main choreographer of Les Grandes Ballets de Tahiti Lorenzo Schmidt, with whom Sonia collaborated on the creation of her fusion, supports the dancer: many of us have become just a souvenir. When we founded our troupe, we understood that we must respect our roots, but when we started looking, we could not find many of the basic movements that were confused after more than two hundred years of prohibition during colonization. And now in Tahiti, many believe in the sacred, but we express our traditions in a new way and are looking for our own way. Even the oldest Tahitians support us - they often come to our performances, realizing that this is not a fundamental change in traditions, but just a new way of expressing them.

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