In the dazzling world of dance, where movements weave tales of tradition and culture, Maheana Atapo stands as a shining example of grace and dedication. Recently crowned the best ‘Ori Tahiti dancer at Heiva i Tahiti 2023, her performance on the stage was a true masterpiece that resonated with the heart of Polynesian heritage. Take a look at this video:

YouTube video
Heiva 2023 Maheana Atapo meilleure danseuse ‘Ori i Tahiti 2 23 screenshot Pin e1691498253239

As Depeche de Tahiti writes, Maheana Atapo’s journey from being a devoted mother and a technology teacher at Collège Henri Hiro to becoming the reigning ‘ori tahiti ambassador is nothing short of inspiring. Her victory at Heiva i Tahiti 2023, described as an “achievement” and a source of “pride,” brings her passion for tahitian culture into the spotlight.

View All

Although she was surprisingly relaxed backstage, the real challenge was to impress her ‘ori tahiti teacher, Kehaulani Chanquy, on stage. “Kehaulani is tough to convince. I had to craft my choreography at various levels so that every jury member would sense the ‘ori tahiti that resonated with them,” Maheana shares.

With the guidance of Terauarii Piritua, the leader of Ori i Tahiti, and choreographer Alexandra Mervin, Maheana meticulously crafted her performance, drawing inspiration from the text “Tei hea tu ra oe” by Tāne a Raapoto. Under the spotlight of Toa’ta, her dance conveyed a powerful message: “A people’s essence lies in its language. As Polynesians, we must speak reo tahiti, reclaim our mother tongue. Whether it’s dance, craftsmanship, or traditional navigation, all paths should flow through the practice of reo tahiti,” she emphasizes.

Her victory trophy is the fruit of sacrifices and countless hours invested in creating a winning performance. “For a dancer, there’s no greater title on this planet. It’s hope for all those little girls who didn’t grow up in ‘ori tahiti. This title represents possibility and the trust of my troupe leader,” Maheana reveals, moved by the unforgettable memories of the competition.

Age is no barrier to ‘ori tahiti practice, according to Maheana. Her journey into dance wasn’t conventional, starting at the age of 7 when she’d craft gestures to the melodies of ancient Tahitian music with her grandfather. “No one initiated me; I simply loved ‘ori tahiti,” she shares. It wasn’t until her senior year in high school that she enrolled in a ‘ori tahiti school, Tevai, to prepare for her dance examination.

Interestingly, Maheana’s true initiation into ‘ori tahiti occurred later, at the age of 24, when she joined the Hitireva troupe, led by Kehaulani Chanquy. Her debut at Heiva i Tahiti 2016 was enchanting and exceptional. Within the group, she took her first authentic steps into ‘ori tahiti. Curiosity propelled her, infusing traditional dance with new meanings. “Every theme and experience from Heiva teaches me so much. Dance urges me to delve deeper into my culture and heritage,” she says, acknowledging her interest in the works of writer Chantal Spitz. This playful exploration enriches her teaching and strengthens her cultural identity.

Beyond ‘ori tahiti, Maheana’s passions extend to sports like hiking, both in her homeland and abroad. She cherishes the emotion of being close to nature. Her daily routine as a technology teacher at Collège Henri Hiro is a testament to her balance between work and passion. “I’ve found a beautiful professional and personal equilibrium. I love where I am right now, and I’m not ready to change,” Maheana concludes, her smile speaking volumes.

For those inspired by Maheana’s journey, it’s a reminder that the world of dance transcends age, background, and experience. Just like her, anyone can embark on the mesmerizing journey of ‘ori tahiti, adding a unique rhythm to their life’s melody. Whether you’re taking your first steps on the dance floor or seeking to expand your horizons, the world of ‘ori tahiti welcomes all with open arms and the promise of cultural immersion.

If you enjoyed our today’s video, you are more than welcome to share it with your friends and let them know what you think about it. Also, consider checking out our most recent posts and stay in touch. Cheers!