How to tahiti dance

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!

Tahitian Dance - Tahiti Mana

About Us

Tahiti Mana Dance School

The goal of Tahiti Mana is to share our passion for Tahitian music & dance with others; to pass on the traditional knowledge we have learned from our elders and to inspire the next generation to develop their skills in dance & immerse themselves in Tahitian culture.

Tahiti Mana Dance School offers different level classes open to males & females of all ages, levels, and ethnicity. Students have opportunities to perform.

***NEW*** We now also offer ONLINE classes!

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Tahiti Mana Online Studio

Virtual, Self-Paced, Unlimited Access to Tahitian Dance Classes from anywhere in the world from any device

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Tahiti Mana Productions

Tahiti Mana Productions offers professional Polynesian shows for any event on the island or abroad.  

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Tahiti Mana Dance Troupe

Tahiti Mana is a multiple award winning troupe.

Troupe members participate in community events and cultural exchange. They have traveled to Tahiti & New Zealand to perform and also to expand their horizons.

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Saturday, October 1st, 2022

Tahiti Mana Student Showcase 2022


The Artistry , Honolulu

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Saturday, October 1st, 2022

Tahiti Mana Student Showcase 2022

Performances by Tahiti Mana students and Troupe members.  


The Artistry , Honolulu

Saturday, November 5th, 2022

Te Moana Nui Games 2022


Waimea Valley, Oahu North Shore

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Saturday, November 5th, 2022

Te Moana Nui Games 2022

Tahitian cultural event on the island of Oahu focusing on Traditional Tahitian and Polynesian Sport Competition. Dance spectacle by Tahiti M...

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Class Reviews

Tamure -

Tamure (pronounced and sometimes spelled Tamouré in French and Tamure in the form written in Tahiti) is the name of a modern variation of the Tahitian dance, known locally as Ori Tahiti.

Short story:

Shortly after World War II Pacific Battalion veteran Louis Martin enjoyed the Queen's disco, wrote a very popular song based on traditional rhythms and used the word "Tamure" as the refrain. So he got the nickname "Tamur Martin" and conveyed the name of the Tahitian dance, which "Popaa" would describe "Ori Tahiti".

The Tahitian dance known as "Ori Tahiti" is one of the most famous dances in French Polynesia. This is a traditional dance from Tahiti, listed on the Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in France in 2017.


  • 1 Tahitian dance Ori Tahiti
  • 2 History
  • 3 Cultivated
  • 4 Notes and references
  • 5 Bibliography
  • 6 See also
    • 6.1 Related articles
    • 6.2 External links

This is a duet in which the man hits his thighs with scissors and the woman rotates her hips. The dancer's foot movement is called paoti , Tahitian for chisel , and involves joining the heels and bending open and tight knees in a continuous back and forth motion. The rotation of the dancer's hips is due to the movement of her knees, and her feet and shoulders must remain horizontal. Each movement of the arms and hands has a symbolic meaning, which is accompanied by a description of the gestures of the legend. The dancer moves relatively little, and the dancer usually moves around her partner, who is the central pivot of the dance. Dancers sometimes move sideways or up and down while crouching while keeping their hips and knees moving. Dance steps have been codified such as tue (kick) or paoti .

Tamure dance to the accompaniment of drums, consisting of toere , hollow wooden cylinders struck with sticks, and drum pahu . The rhythm of the beats and the swaying of the dancer's hips are interconnected, with slow phases and fast acceleration replacing each other.

Tamure usually dance in plant costumes, ahu, more than often called " more" , vegetable fiber skirts and crowns. Men ( tane ) are shirtless and often tattooed, while wahina wear coconut bras. Other costumes are also used, made from sacred auti leaves, pareo cloth or tapa , more commonly reserved for " aparima .

Tamure is basically a duet, when danced in a group it forms " ote'a . Other styles that share tamure dance movements have a special name, such as aparima. The first European navigators describe about 17 different traditional Tahitian dances. Today there are four main forms practiced: ' ote'a , ' aparima , pao'a and hivinau . The survival of Marquesas and Māori culture led to the reintegration of the haka, exclusively male and warrior.


ʻUpaʻupa circa 1909 , in pareo .

The old version of Ori Tahiti is upaupa, which is now gone. "Otea" already existed, but then it was considered a male dance and was described as a dance of war.

Missionaries of the London Missionary Society viewed traditional Polynesian dances as satanic and obscene, so they were banned for a long time during the colonization, as was much of Tahitian culture. Thus King Pomare II in 1819and Queen Pomare in 1842 introduced two bans on "lustful songs, games and amusements".

Marquess princess circa 1909, tapa costume.

These dances have been preserved in popular culture in private settings. The celebration in 1880 of the French National Day of July 14 permitted the return of traditional holidays and their content under the name Tiurai festivals.

At the beginning of XX - th centuries , they are publicly manifested mainly during the celebration of July 14 or the arrival and departure of ships. At the same time, costumes made from traditional materials using tapas are making a comeback. Between 1920 and 1930, then over in plant fibers appeared and developed rapidly.

Tamure is the name of the Tuamotu fish, the exact name of the dance being 'Ori Tahiti (Tahitian dance). Shortly after World War II, Pacific Battalion veteran Luis Martin wrote a very popular song using traditional rhythms and using the word Tāmūrē as the refrain. Thus, he received the nickname Tamura Martin and passed this name on to the dance.

In 1956, Madeleine Moy, visiting folk dances from various French regions of mainland France, felt the need to update the traditional Tahitian dance. Therefore, when she was the principal of the school, she created the first dance group called Heiva . In the second half of the XX - th centuries, Polynesian dances evolved, looked at the "traditional" standard and organized into dance troupes. The popular practice fell in favor of dance groups and schools organized performances in the tiurai dance competition (becomes Heiva at the end of XX - th century ), public holidays, as well as in the tourist professional environment that develops thanks to the opening of Faa International Airport in 1961.

Since the 1980s and 1990s, there has been a resurgence in popularity of traditional dances and the number of dance schools has increased dramatically. Groups participate in international events and organize tours. The dances and costumes also develop under the influence of the competitions generated by the competitions organized for the khiva. This evolution ends up going beyond the limits imposed by "tradition", leading to the creation of groups such as Les Grands Ballets de Tahiti, who freed themselves from these restrictions to continue the search for new movements in dance, choreography, music and music, costumes. . A division between groups is then created according to these traditional criteria, leading to the exclusion of "modern" groups from competition such as the heiva.

Advertisements sometimes sell the Tahitian dream with tamure while the dance they promote is hula, a distinctly Hawaiian dance that has its own costumes, history, musical instruments, and a style that emphasizes hand movement.


  • Alessandro Alessandroni founded the eight-part choir I Cantori Moderni in 1961. It is this vocal group that we hear in the song Samoa Tamure ( Samoa Tamure ) composed by Armando Trovacholi for the soundtrack of the 1963 film I Mostri (Monsters ) directed by Dino Risi. This Polynesian-sounding song illustrates New Year's Eve's ball scene from film 9 MÕIS Ferme , directed in 2013 by Dupontelle.

Notes and links

  1. ↑ Apple tree 2017, p. 3.
  2. ↑ " Patrimoine environmentalnement ", at (Retrieved July 25, 2019)
  3. ↑
  4. ↑ Tahitian dance, " Madeleine Moua: Grande Dame de la Danse Tahitienne / Ori Tahiti ", on (accessed June 19, 2018) .
  5. ↑ Alain Ricard, Hawaii , ed. Kartala, 2003, p. 121


  • Dance in Tahiti , Patrick O'Reilly , Nouvelles Éditions latines , Paris .
  • Marion Fine, Ori tahiti: dancing in Tahiti , Papeete, Au vent des îles, , 79 p. (ISBN 978-2-909790-11-4 and 2-909790-11-8, online presentation)
  • Tamatoa Pomare Pommier, Le' Ori, Artistic, Social and Cultural Practice of Tahiti and the Society Islands (Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory), Papeete, Ministry of Culture, , 23 pp. (read online)
  • Te 'Ori Tahiti: Repertoire of Tahitian Dance Steps , Papeete, French Polynesian Conservatory of Arts, , 128 p.

See Also

Related Articles

  • Paoa
  • Aparima
  • Otea
  • Hivinau
  • Hawaiian hula
  • Polynesian Music

External Links

  • Duet of Heifara Maurien and John Outzekowski, best dance couple at Heiva 2005, video on Youtube
  • Taut Paofai, male solo, Heiva and Tahiti, 1995
  • Dance group Tamarii Tiipoto at Heiva 2000 in Bora Bora
  • Tore and Groin Percussion Training
  • Interview with Lorenzo Schmidt at RFO. fr, available online at the Internet Archive
  • (en) Tamure
  • (c) 'upa'upa

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Tahiti Culture ✈️ Tour Log Book

Strong French influence combined with ancient Polynesian traditions have created a unique culture. The way of life of the people of Tahiti is full of warmth and love for the islands. This can be seen in music, dance and crafts. The historical and cultural aspects have nurtured a number of influential artists and writers. Among them are Paul Gauguin, Robert Stevenson, James Mitchener and Jacques Brel. The concept of mana pervades Tahitian culture.

In Tahiti, mana evokes a life force that is both life-giving and destructive, noble and fearsome. Even black pearls, unique to these islands, have some sort of mana. Because it provides a vital income for the inhabitants of remote atolls. The resurgence of traditional tattoos is tangible evidence that Tahitian customs are still alive. There are several reputable tattoo studios in Papeete. In the Polynesian islands, all talents are combined with natural splendor, turning craftsmanship into an art form.


Ancient Tahitians worshiped a hierarchy of gods. It was led by Taaroa. The supreme deity known as Tangaroa in the Cook Islands and Tangaloa in Samoa. Mana, or power, was transmitted from the gods to each person, depending on his position in society. The high chieftains had so much mana that they were considered god-like. The Tahitians worshiped their gods in marais (ancient temples or meeting places) built of stones. Each family had a small marae. It performed the same functions as the chapel. Complex religious ceremonies were held at the central marai. Sacrifices were offered to the gods, sometimes including humans. Mostly prisoners of war or troublemakers.

The conversion of Tahitians to Protestantism took place at the very beginning of the history of European-Tahitian contacts. In 1797, the London Missionary Society sent a group of evangelical Protestant missionaries to the island of Tahiti. By 1830, the vast majority of Tahiti and all of the Society Islands were Protestant. Even after France came to power in the 1840s, Protestantism remained the religion of the Tahitians. As of 2007, Protestants made up about 55% of the population, while Catholics made up 30%. The largest Protestant denomination was the Maohi Church. Services at Maohi Protestant Church are held in Tahitian.

About 6% of the population were Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). And 2% are Seventh-day Adventists. Some Chinese in Tahiti practice Buddhism. Pastors direct the religious activities of the community. They also lead Sunday school, teach the Bible, conduct weddings and funerals, and receive communion. The village pastor is also an advocate for public morality. It can influence political decision making. Elders have an important base of authority in the church. And one of their main roles is to help the pastor in ensuring public control.


Exploring the markets and craft shops of Papeete, Bora Bora or Moorea, you can see examples of local crafts. Screw pine and coconut fibers are woven to make hats, bags, baskets and mats. Beautiful tifify bedspreads are created using appliqué and patchwork techniques. Spears, puzzles and bowls are carved from local wood. Even the volcanic rocks of the islands are subjected to creative processing. Black pearls, grown in the lagoons of remote atolls, are another treasure.

Legend has it that Ora, the god of peace and fertility, slid down to earth on a rainbow. He gave the beautiful princess of Bora Bora a black pearl. In the Papeete market, in the Vaima shopping center and in hotel shops, it is easy to find something beautiful as a souvenir.

Dance and Music

The art of dance is very important to the Tahitians. Traditional dances were developed to attract love, challenge an enemy, greet friends, or bow to a god. Each dance had a purpose and meaning. However, in the 1800s, missionaries living on the islands opposed the traditional dances. This ban was in effect until 1950 years. Today, Tahitian dance culture is thriving. Now the dance is accompanied by the harmonious voices of the Tahitians and the thunder of traditional drums. Modern orchestras use percussion and string instruments. Among the drums there are to'ere, faalete and pakhu with two skins, which are beaten with a stick. Stringed instruments consist of the ukulele and guitar. Other instruments: ihara, forked bamboo drum and vivo, nasal flute. Finally, all kinds of sounds can be made by clicking rocks, shells, foam (gear) or coconuts.

Himene is a cross between religious hymns and polyphonic Tahitian chants. The main forms are chimene tarawa, chimene ru'au and ute. The first two have their roots in the English Protestant liturgy and in the pre-European period. Both types of musical expression usually praise a legendary god, famous leader, or animal protectors. These songs use very poetic lyrics. Each island and region has its own interpretations. There are four types of dance in Tahitian dances. Otea: A war dance among the natives of Tahiti reserved for men only. It became the most famous of the Tahitian dances.

The melody consists of rhythmic motifs called pehe. Aparima: In this dance, the hands of the Tahitian dancers reproduce the story. Aparima can be vawa (silent) and consist of pantomimes. Usually performed on the knees and accompanied by percussion instruments. The Hivinau: During this choreography, the dancers spin in a circle. And the male soloist says a phrase that the choir accepts. Paaoa: This dance originated from the movements used in making tapa (a type of parchment made from vegetable matter). Dancers and dancers squat in a semicircle. The male soloist voices the topic to which the choir responds. The couple stand up and do a short dance in a circle.


Fare Poteʻe means round house. It is so named because its rounded style of architecture was usually reserved for chiefs and nobles. The larger the house, the higher the rank of the owner. In the decoration of the leader there were many large rugs made of thin fabric. Also in the interior were Nohoraa. These are four-legged wooden seats for high-ranking people. The bedroom had a turua or wooden headrest and a raised bed. Traditionally, everyone slept on the floor, covered with aretu grass and covered with mats. Fare Heiva - Te Tahua Orira'a, Tahitian "dance floor". Initially, she occupied an important place in the village. Sometimes the building was raised for a better view.

Modern buildings and colonial style are commonplace in Tahiti. The architecture, however, retained its originality with a typical vegetal design. Since ancient times, residents have built their houses mostly open. Plant walls were built on piles. And the roof structures were covered with pandanus or wicker leaves of the coconut palm (niau). Pandan roofs continue to be used today in both individual homes and hotels. In interior decoration, wood is very often used (mahogany, yak, tamanu, lychee, coconut and teak). And also - natural materials, such as mother-of-pearl, shells, stones, etc.


The word tatau originated in the islands of Tahiti. The symbols on the body tell the personal story of each Tahitian. The Tahitians believe in the presence of Tohu, the god tatau. He painted all ocean fish with colors and patterns. Polynesian tattoos are also a sign of beauty. And in the old days they were an important part of life. Because they signaled the end of adolescence. There are many legends about the origin of tatau. They all share one common feature. They are always a gift from God to man. The origins of tattooing in Tahiti culture go back to the origins of the Maori civilization. In pre-European Polynesian society, the tattoo was a valuable social marker. It can indicate the exact place of a person in the territory, in the tribe and in the family. And also on his level on the social scale. The drawing can also reflect significant events in a person's life.

"Tattooing is optional, but it would be unacceptable for Tahitians not to have tattoos at all. " So explained the anthropologist Ann Lavondes. Each of the different Tahitian peoples developed their own designs and specific motifs. The tools of traditional Polynesian tattooing were a small, notched comb. It was made of bone, tortoise shell or mother of pearl. The comb was attached to a wooden handle.

Ancient Tattoo Techniques

Teeth were impregnated with ti'airi or candlenut (Aleurites Moluccana) charcoal ink. The substance was diluted with oil or water. The teeth of the instrument were placed on the skin. While the tattoo artist hit the handle with a piece of wood. As a result, the skin was torn, and the ink penetrated inside. With these tools, creating a tattoo could be very painful. This reinforced the role of the Tahitian tattoo as a rite of passage.

In the early 1980s, the practice of tatau was updated. The tattoo for the people of Tahiti has become a symbol of a decisive revival of the Polynesian identity. To this, obviously, aesthetic motives were added.

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