"To me the effect of a Siva dance was that of a dozen Rembrandts intensified into the most glowing beauty of life and motion.” ~Henry Brook Adams
Tahitian dance is exuberant and vibrant, and has a long history of cultural significance. These dances are associated with certain events and occasions, and there are multiple dance styles. Tahitian dance has had a difficult history, but despite setbacks to this artistic expression, it remains a popular and recognizable aspect of Tahitian cultural tradition. [reposted from eHow.com]
In the early age of Tahitian dancing, performances were symbolic and significant, not just an art form. Native people of Tahiti had different dances for different occasions. For example, there was a dance that was performed to greet guests at an official ceremony. Other dances were designated for prayer and worship ceremonies dedicated to ancient gods. Some dances were more personal, and people danced to challenge an adversary to combat or to seduce and entice a potential mate. Tahitian myths and legends were acted out through traditional dance.
Tahitian dances are performed to the accompaniment of traditional music. Drums, made of hollowed-out tree limbs and shark skin, feature heavily in Tahitian music. Dance music is strongly rhythmic and powerful, and these qualities are also characteristic of the dancing. Other instruments include the conch and the nose flute. The conch, called a pu, is blown like a horn to create a deep, reverberating tone. Nose flutes, called vivo, are made from bamboo tubes with holes carved into them, and they are played by exhaling out of the nose and into the flute. These traditional instruments and music styles have been used to accompany Tahitian dancing throughout history.
It isn't certain when or how Tahitian dancing originally developed. It is a practice that dates back to ancient Tahitian people and their Maohi ancestors. Early native Tahitians had complex systems of religion, etiquette, social structure and artistry. This included dance and music. Troupes of professional dances, called Arioi, traveled the island and performed at ceremonies and celebrations. Dance was an important and popular cultural expression in Tahiti, but it suffered a setback during the 1800s. Early British colonists and missionaries who came to Tahiti found traditional Tahitian dances provocative and offensive. These dances usually included revealing traditional costumes, and some sensual movements and subject matter. In 1820, the British colonists abolished most forms of dance in Tahiti.