INES OGOREVC   •   21/12/2019

Last week, Naja Furlan from Mana Tahiti Slovenija entrusted us with her dance story. If you haven’t read the first part yet, you can find it on the link.

This week, she shared with us her inspirations, moments from the dancefloor, challenges for the future and also shared some tips for the people who are still deciding to start to dance or not. For you, however, she has prepared a couple of challenges to try Ori Tahiti by yourself.

Since you started dancing Ori Tahiti, there was certainly a moment that has a special meaning for you?

Where I was staying in Tahiti, I really liked the fact that people are very connected to nature and use materials from their environment. For example, before dance performance you go to the forest to collect leaves, flowers, shells. In Slovenia we don't have that concept. I really like the aspect of Ori Tahiti - the feeling of nature and being fully involved in the artistic process. It’s not only about steps, but besides the technique you are also developing on another level, other senses and you get inspiration from nature. There are many movements that imitate the natural movement of the sea and the wind, so you try to get immersed in your surroundings.

What inspires you in dance?

Because I lived by the sea for twelve years, the sea energizes me and I get inspiration from there. I enjoy being in nature and get a lot of inspiration in silence.

What about a funny moment, something that happened to you on the dance floor or in connection with dance?

There were many moments like that, for example the self-discipline that I have as a Slovenian, compared to them. When making a mistake, they make a party out of it and start screaming. But Slovenians, we think about how we are not supposed to make a mistake. On the production in Tahiti, I was nervous about making a mistake. They were like: "Don't worry, just keep going, we'll make the mistake on purpose". They have such a positive approach; dance is fun for them. They are more relaxed in dance and don't take it as a big deal. You make a mistake and life goes on, perfection will never be achieved.

Did you also performe there?

I was lucky to be there during the period of the heiva des ecoles. It's about introducing dance schools, not in a competitive sense, but by the students. We had the opportunity to perform at La Maison de la Culture, in their cultural center. It was the dance school of my teacher Makau Foster, which I respect and love as a dancer and as a person.

What kind of lessons did dance taught you that you are using also out of dance?

One of the lessons is to learn to respect your own boundaries. The body is not designed to be exploited in the long term. There are times when you say: "This movement is not working for me, I have to force it." You get injuries and everything goes wrong. Nothing goes fast, you have to enjoy the learning process and then you can apply it to other things in life. That's what dance teaches you, at least it taught me.

Would you have any advice for dancers or anything from dancing?

We all need something to ground us. My advice would be to devote yourself to what you love doing and sacrifice something for it as it comes back double or triple. By doing what you like, you are sharing something positive. Anyone with any ability and knowledge shouldn't be keeping it for themselves but they should share it.

Do you have a signature dance move, that you always do or you love it and repeat it a lot?

There are more of them.


This movement is very characteristic for the beginning of a choreography or performance to greet the audience.

Another one is an arm movement that imitates the movement of the ocean. The ocean is called moana. You can make a wave with your palms, as soft as possible and you change direction in front of you and then to the side. You can also go for a different variation of imitating water movement.

Ori Tahiti dance is not yet very recognizable in Slovenia. Could you make a short challenge and show the dance to our dancers, so they can try it themselves?

First a challenge for the girls. I will show a basic movement called tamau, and the position of the arms is tautea. At the beginning, we put the weight on the whole foot and go down as if we were sitting. You are in a slightly bend position, using leg force you lift your hip. You work with your hips and legs. You use your knees, forward, back and from the side. The upper body keeps still, we only work with the hips, left and right. Then go faster. This was a tamau.

And now a challenge for the boys. This movement is called paoti, which means scissors. It's a step that is also danced by the girls, but it's distinctly male. It goes like this: you spread and close your knees and carry weight from leg to leg. You can also put your hands away and spin.

Naja, thank you so much for taking the time today. It was a pleasure to meet a dance I wasn't so familiar with. I wish you a lot of success and many students.

Thank you for the invitation.

See you, bye.
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