One thing that I thought that was truly amazing about our time on the capital island (Rarotonga) was the big dance competition they had. I thought it would have been a lot more fun if we could have seen some more of that or to learn a quick little routine or two. I really thought it was beautiful. Anyone can learn a lot about someone’s culture by the dancing, the music in their air, and the objects people take the time to craft by hand. I would have loved to have stayed on the capital island for a few more days and to learn more about our host nation that way.
I thought that it was cool to see the many different kinds of dances and songs. At first, I had a hard time telling if there was a different style of dance going on from dance to dance. However it soon became clear that there were two broad categories of “dance” that I could distinguish; one was “sitting” and the others were “standing.” The mostly sitting variety was cool in its own way. More solemn and soulful in my opinion. These pieces also escalate as it progresses. A piece would often start at a normal pace but then seem to pick up the pace after a little bit. Towards the midpoint one of the women would stand up and start to dance a little. And by the end of the dance something like three or four women would be energetically dancing around. These would also follow a defined arrangement with all the women sitting and the men standing behind them, clothed in Aloha shirts/flower print full-length dresses.
The other broad category of dances had everyone standing throughout the entirety of the dance. These seemed to be more of the typical dances that one would associate with the Hawaiian Islands or greater Polynesia. Or with any other island nation for that matter. It was all very cool to see. I just wish I was able to learn more about these awesome traditions from the local people.