Date: Sunday, July 22
Time: 5:00 PM
Location: Performance Pavilion at Heritage Park
Chicago's premier Pacific Island dance company showcases authentic dance, vibrant costumes and non-stop excitement.
"If you’ve never seen a Polynesian dance, watching just one live performance might leave you wondering how you would feel up on stage, dancing the Hula or the Tahitian Ori. It’s not just the effortless motion of the dancers’ hips as they sway in perfect unison with their hands, shoulders and feet, or the mesmerizing beat of the music, or the beautiful costumes. It’s the way all those pieces fit together with an easy grace, making it hard to take your eyes off the dancers.
Origins of the Movement
Polynesian dance encompasses Tahitian, Tongan, Samoan, Fijian, Maori (New Zealand) and Hawaiian styles. It began as an accompaniment to the oral storytelling traditions of those islands, conveying the literal meaning of a tale. Modern Polynesian dance still tells stories through movement, but those narratives can be a bit more abstract, allowing audiences to focus on the beauty of the dances themselves.
Today’s Hawaiian dance includes two basic styles: Hula Kahiko (ancient Hula) and Hula Auana (modern Hula). Hula Kahiko involves vigorous hand movements performed to the chants, or mele, of a singer playing a gourd drum. Hula Auana, set to contemporary music or accompanied by a ukelele, is more gentle and flowing.
Tahitian dance consists of fast, rhythmic hip movements, usually set to the beat of the toere, or slit-log drum. These hip isolations, known as oteas, are the highlight of many luau performances. Tahitian dance also has a distinctive basic step for men, pa’oti, which involves opening and closing slightly bent knees like scissors.
Samoan culture has many visually exciting dances, or siva, such as the Siva Afi (“fireknife”), in which dancers twirl and toss a single- or double-bladed knife lit on fire. This dance originated as a way to train warriors, as did the Fa’ataupati, or Samoan slap dance, which teaches young men coordination by having them smack various parts of their bodies.
Maori dance, which originated in New Zealand, often involves sticks, songs and games. Particularly notable is the Poi dance, in which Maori women twirl Poi balls—small spheres attached to braided fibers—in an effort to keep their hands flexible for weaving. The whirring sound made by the props is also supposed to evoke the noise of the sea and of various animals.
Fijian dance is characterized by the meke dances, which include the spear dance, the fan dance and the sitting dance. Simultaneously powerful and graceful, meke are usually accompanied by singing, drumming and hand clapping, and are danced during celebrations and special occasions.
One of the most popular Tongan dances is the Tau’olunga, often performed by girls at weddings, which uses hand movements to interpret song lyrics. Other notable Tongan dances include the Lakalaka, which uses only arm movements; the Ma’ulu’ulu, a sitting dance; and the Kailao, a war dance in which dancers use clubs to simulate combat." (2018, DanceSpirit)
Bring a blanket or lawn chair for seating. Coolers allowed. No outside alcohol permitted. Concessions from the grill and beeer/wine available for purchase.
Dance Spirit (2018). "The beauty of Polynesian dance," https://www.dancespirit.com/the-beauty-of-polynesian-dance-2326036610.html
Performance Pavilion at Heritage Park201 Community Boulevard
Wheeling, IL 60090