NAJA FURLAN   •   27/01/2020

Everyone involved in any activity in their life is looking for something in it. He believes that this activity will improve his life, help him, upgrade him or otherwise perfect him. But it is not necessary to know what is it that drives us to do something.

I also don't know with what expectations people come to dance classes of Polynesian dance (Ori Tahiti). After five years of teaching this dance style, I notice the frequency of some of the questions and beliefs that potential new dancers have. These questions, as well as expectations, open an interesting field of thinking, namely how people in Slovenia, here and now, perceive Polynesian dance.

Some questions cheer me up and encourage me to do more research, others shock me, some make me laugh, others even upset me. Sometimes I answer a question with another question because I don't know what exactly do they mean.

Well, let's go to the point, to clear up some doubts (I apologize in advance for a bit of sarcasm, I couldn't avoid)-

1. Does Polynesian dance awaken the first chakra?

I don't know.

I am a dancer and a "mover", I only have so much idea about chakras that I know that each one has its own color and there are 7. I notice that people feel good after and during the class, whether the movement with the hips awakens the first chakra unfortunately I cannot answer. All I know is that we definitely use the muscles in the area of ​​the first and second chakras with dance - but we know that by the burning muscle fatigue the next day. It feels good. And yes, there was a flow. But this will not happen miraculously when you enter the ballroom with a flower in your hair, waiting for enlightenment and opening of energy centers.

It annoys me a little when people start connecting all the dancing where you "move with your ass" and dances barefoot, immediately with New age mysticism and Esoteric, finding magical solutions to all possible problems.

But I tell you something. All this can happen. However, some work and some sweat will be needed first.

2. I would like to awaken my femininity.

Mmm, great.

What does femininity really mean? The concept of femininity is culturally and socially conditioned. It is not a concreted axiom, but a fluid term that changes with society and its expectations for a gentler gender. In addition, every woman in today's overwhelming society has her own idea of ​​womanhood.

First of all, it would be a good idea for women to ask themselves first what the concept of "being feminine" represents to them. Is it enough to dress up nicely to get the attention of the opposite sex? To give birth to children and take care of your family? That you have a career and are emancipated? That you are fragile and give men a feeling they protect you? To allow a man to open your door and move your chair? There is no single answer.

If the self-esteem inhibitor is "fat" (imaginary or real and potentially a destroyer of femininity, I by the way have nothing against fat), there is a very likely twist, as after a few liters of lost sweat you will feel more muscle tone - especially in the abdomen, buttocks and legs. The fat will melt. The posture will improve.

From this point of view, every sport and physical activity contributes to raising self-confidence and "awakening the femeninity".

To the extent that your hip movement gives you the feeling of femininity, great. The fact is that we will work hard and many times you will ask me to stop. The cruel fact is that an Ori Tahiti dancer in training looks something like this: at the top of his head she has hair tied up in a careless bun, as otherwise the sweat would drip off of them. The shirt has already changed color because it is sweaty. The pareo shows a footprint of the sweaty underwear (which is why I prefer a black pareo). A towel is used around the neck to wipe the sweat so that we do not have to wipe the floor when everything is squeezed out of us. Forget about makeup as it will run across your face like an ice cream at 40 degrees celzius. Sweat, sweat, sweat... how many times have I used the word sweat?

3. Does Ori Tahiti bring relaxation?

I would say yes. Aside from the good energy that music and movement give you, we are so exhausted after the training that the mind focuses only on the most urgent "problems" -  feeding, resting (meditative, cathartic effect, right?). We are also evolving to – let’s use a modern expression today - stay in the moment and alertness, because we are here and now - you will always be in the present moment when you will feel the pain in your thighs and while catching your breath. Yes, even among “aparima”, which is seemingly so gentle that the viewer wipes away tears while emotionally watching it. Slow motion is often more strenuous than fast.

4. Polynesian dance grounds you, right?

Just to get grounded (whatever that means, again a matter of subjective interpretation), you don't need a Polynesian dance class, it's enough for you to walk barefoot a bit more. A quick google search tells us that there are so many reflex points on the foot, whose massage has a beneficial effect on our internal organs and their function. Walking on rocks is a great exercise to force your foot to grip with your fingers. As well as walking on gravel, which massages the central part of the foot. In winter you just have to get creative. Even the dance floor can help. So welcome to push into the dance floor with us. No socks, please!

5. I'm ashamed to be so exposed.

We have nothing to do here. In the sub-tropical zone, the traditional dance outfit is climate-friendly. Clothing that is not appropriate in our perceptions is part of everyday wardrobe for Polynesians.

If it helps, I promise we can move a lot more freely if the thick fabric of long underwear or pants doesn't slip between our legs.

And what am looking for in Ori Tahiti?

The first motivation is very cheap and sweet.

Ori Tahiti evokes in me the feeling of summer. My winter wardrobe contains some dull black pieces that somehow fit together to look as decent as I can while waiting for a period below 20 degrees to pass. The rest are dance costumes and a summer wardrobe that is incredibly colorful. When I hear the drums, my heart rate jumps to just the right level. Serotonin levels increase. I come alive. I know this is it. I was born with a 10-day delay because I waited for the new snow to melt in March. That's what my mom says ️ My parents gave me the most wonderful gift in my childhood - the smell of pine trees and salt. Every summer in elementary and high school, I spent two months under the open sky with dirty feet from the red Istrian land. How they spoiled me.

The second reason is less romantic. I like to compete. Today with myself, in the past with others. It's just a part of growing up and maturing, the result of comparing yourself to others is somewhat ok, but dragged for too long it destroys a person. I used to be better than my competitors, today I have them as teachers.

The more I browse Tahitian cultural heritage, the more I want to know. The more background I know, the more I enjoy dancing. Polynesian dance is only part of the story. A dance term like any other, with a specific dance technique and its laws.

Miss Tahiti, Heiva's best dancer, best this, best that... I don’t care about the new-age Tahitian events full of ego, rivalry and competition. Din don, good morning, yes, this was brought about by colonization or the so-called "civilization of primitive people". Even Tahiti did not escape it.

Of course, despite the layers of modernity, below there is something I like and is still alive. That is the value of connection. As a dancer, you develop not only yourself but yourself in a wider space. In a group of 50 or more people, you are not important as an individual, but as part of a group with so much energy that you can feel it as something present and you just cry from the emotions that you are part of this mass of people dancing with the same enthusiasm as you.

I quit solo shows because I have enough of it. When I was the only dancer of this dance style in Slovenia, I had no choice but to perform solo, but now I am surrounded by enthusiastic dancers who know that Ori Tahiti is more than just "being beautiful" on stage. I, I, I was replaced with us, we, us! Dancing Polynesian dance means: Take care of yourself, and at least for the dancer in front of you, on your left and right, and behind you. So you don’t step on them while dancing, do not slam them, maintain your place in the space and, last but not least, remember to smile at them, when you feel like it. You do not strive to stand out, but you contribute to your maximum to grow the overall frequency of the whole group.

This is just one of the things I love about Polynesian culture, Polynesian dance.

Last for this blog, but by no means the last reason on my list why Ori Tahiti is such an important part of my life is this - I see Ori Tahiti as a micro-cure for a society that exacerbates egocentric individualism, for a society where individuals think that it is always them as the protagonists of all fairy tales and the eternal winners of every battle.

No, we're not always right. We are not always the best. Painful realization. And the sooner we process it, the sooner we can move forward.

So come and try it!

Maeva, manava!

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