Competitive Polynesian Dance

Did you know that the dances you see at a luau can be danced competitively? For many people, it comes as a surprise that the beautiful dances of the Pacific are not just purely danced for entertainment but are also danced in a competitive setting. Hula, Ori Tahiti and Siva Samoa are some of the more popular dance styles that can be danced in competition. These dance styles have entire events dedicated to judging the skill, technique, costume, music, theme and knowledge of dancers and their groups. Success in these different competitions give dancers notoriety, a chance to showcase their skill, prizes and scholarships. Some dancers and groups that become successful in the competition circuit can be asked to go on tour or join dance companies as soloists.
For example, Ori Tahiti (Tahitian Dance) competitions are held all over the world in places like California, Hawaii, Paris, Japan, and Mexico. Dancers train to dance as soloists or groups. Dancers and groups that place in their category gain notoriety and the chance to be chosen to represent our country in Tahiti. Hula is more widely known to be danced competitively in the famous Merrie Monarch festival held Hawaii every year or on the mainland at competitions like E Hula Mau in California. Dances from Samoa or Siva Samoa are known to be competitive amongst high schools and colleges. A popular Samoan dance competition is held annually at the Polynesian Cultural center on Oahu. Kalakeke Pacific Island Dance Co. of Santa Clarita participates in competitive Tahitian dance and has several award winning dancers from competitions all over the country.
This year, Kalakeke beautifully represented Santa Clarita in Hawaii at one of the oldest American Tahitian dance competitions Heiva I Kauai and took home 2nd place in group Aparima. It was an amazing experience for the entire group and helped raise our skill level. If you are ever interested in checking out one these competitions, following your local Polynesian dance group Kalakeke PIDC or even if you want to join in on the fun and dance visit and follow us on Facebook. Mahalo nui loa!

This was written by our very own Tyana Farrell for the Magazine of Santa Clarita on September 1st, 2016

What is Polynesian Dance?

Oftentimes when talking about Polynesian dance, it’s assumed that most of the dances seen being performed are hula. While hula is in fact a type of Polynesian dance, it is only one of many that are performed. Typically, the types of Polynesian dance seen being performed are from the islands of Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand and Samoa.
The most commonly known form of Polynesian dance is from the island of Hawaii. Hula is actually the Hawaiian term for “dance,” and is usually characterized by its slow and graceful hips and hands. This is actually a more modern form of hula known as Hula Auana, often accompanied by ukulele or more contemporary music. The more traditional form of hula is Hula Kahiko, with stronger motions and accompanied by chants or a singer playing an ipu, or gourd drum.
The fast, high-energy dancing with drumbeats is from the island of Tahiti. Tahitian ori, the Tahitian word for dance, is often seen in luaus and mistaken for hula. Tahitian ori is characterized by the fast drumbeats played on a slit-log drum known as a toere, and its fast motions. For the females, they use mainly their hips, but guys are known for the step with their knees, pa’oti.
The islands of New Zealand have several dances performed through chants and implements. The Maori Poi ball dance has women twirling small spheres attached to rope. What many people recognize is the Maori Haka—a war chant made famous by the New Zealand national rugby team: the All-Blacks, where they would perform this before every game.
Finally, from the islands of Samoa, there are many exciting and high-energy dances, or siva as they are known in Samoan. The Siva Afi, or fireknife dance, is a dance performed by spinning a knife that has been set on fire, and is often a highlight for most luaus. The Samoan Sasa is a synchronized dance that usually is distinct from each village, and has a large amount of people performing all at once.
These are just a few examples of the dances that make up the entirety of Polynesian dancing. Each one has its own unique style and culture behind it, and it’s a pleasure for any performer to help spread this culture for others to enjoy. Kalakeke Pacific Island Dance Company is but one of many who wish to spread this culture for others to experience.

This was written by our very own Joaquin Farrell III for the Magazine of Santa Clarita on January 1st, 2016

Bringing the Islands to SCV!

Ever wanted to experience the music, dance and culture of the Pacific Islands? Look no further, because Kalakeke Pacific Island Dance Company is bringing the Islands to the Santa Clarita Valley! Kalakeke Pacific Island Dance Company is a family-run Polynesian dance school that has been teaching and performing dances from the Pacific Islands in and around Santa Clarita Valley. Sharing the beautiful culture and dances from the islands of Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand, Samoa, and Guam is Kalakeke’s mission. Teaching, performing and organizing cultural events such as the Annual Santa Clarita Pacific Islander Festival at William S. Hart Park and the Te Mana Ori Tahitian Solo Competition in Castaic help share and perpetuate the culture.
Polynesian dance isn’t just for those of Polynesian descent, but for anyone who is willing to learn, respect and appreciate it. The variety of dance style and music is completely unique and provides a fun and exciting workout for different ages and levels. Polynesian dance teaches grace, control, rhythm, and even language in a safe and supportive environment. Through optional year round performances in annual recitals, community events and Polynesian Cultural festivals all over Southern California, students can even build self-confidence. Of course, the Kalakeke PIDC Ohana always throws the best BBQs and luaus!
One of the most beautiful aspects of Polynesian culture isn’t just the dancing, music or even food, but the importance placed on family and fellowship. Kalakeke PIDC places the utmost importance on creating a friendly, safe, and family oriented environment to make for the best learning experience. Classes are offered all year around for a variety of ages from as young as 4 years old to 60 and above. Each class is offered to boys, girls, men and women. Many times when one member of the family joins a class, they bring one or two more family members to dance with them. Our school boasts several families who all learn together and use Kalakeke PIDC as a family bonding experience. Students do not just join a dance class with Kalakeke Pacific Island Dance Co.; they join a family. The Kalakeke PIDC Ohana (family) is always open to grow and accept new members to dance, sing, exercise, have fun and eat with. Of course, the Kalakeke PIDC Ohana always throws the best BBQs and luaus!

This was written for the Magazine of Santa Clarita by our own Tyana Farrell on November 1st, 2015

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