Ori Tahiti, also known as Tahitian dance, is a dance style that originated in the Polynesian island of Tahiti. It is often confused with hula/Hawaiin dancing but, while there is some cultural overlap between the two islands that make the dances quite similar, there are some key differences.

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Ori Tahiti has a rich and deep cultural and historical heritage in Tahiti, and for a while was even banned, but in recent years it has become a popular dance worldwide. Competitions are springing up all over the world, with some amazing performances such as Oceane Enrhardt in today’s video, and it is becoming more popular to see Ori Tahiti classes.

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Ori Tahiti is actually an umbrella term that refers to a wide range of different dances. Historically, different dances were performed for different storytelling, celebratory, or spiritual purposes. The most recognisable Ori Tahiti dance style is Ote’a, which is a fast-paced and energetic dance performed to drum beats and characterised by hip movements.

You may also see the ‘Aparima, which is a slower, more graceful and romantic dance that is mainly performed with the hands and arms. This dance feels and looks very different from Ote-a and is very beautiful.

How can I learn Ori Tahiti/Tahitian dance?

You might be lucky enough to live near a dance studio that teaches Ori Tahiti, especially if you live in or near a big city. While learning this dance style is fun, many studios are keen to emphasise the historical and cultural basis of the dance so you will also have the opportunity to learn its meaning as well. Most of these studios will teach Ote-a and ‘Aparima, although some will also teach other Ori Tahiti dances. It can take a while to become truly proficient but the benefits of learning in a studio are that you will have the teacher on hand to help you and you have the chance to get involved with the social elements.

If you don’t live near a dance studio that offers Ori Tahiti, you don’t have to give up on your dream of learning the dance. There has been a rise over the last couple of years of online dance studios where you pay a fee and can join live and/or pre-recorded classes with instructors on hand. With these classes, you can learn the dance from anywhere in the world while also getting the benefits of having a teacher that can help you. Many will also have community group chats/forums where you can chat with other dance students.

If neither of these is an option for you, there are plenty of YouTube videos which will take you through all of the moves that you need to learn, and are very informative.

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