Dances of Tahiti Show Scheduled for June 22

Danny Tan    Traditional Tahitian dance and drumming will fill the stage at Rhythmix Cultural Works coming up soon.

The Rhythmix Island Arts Concert Series carries Alamedans across the globe to islands from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean. In the first concert in April, audience members experienced the sounds of Cuba with Jesus Diaz. The second concert is just around the corner on Saturday, June 22, and will feature dance and music from the islands of Tahiti. 

While many people may be familiar with the dance and music of Hawai’i (Tahiti’s cultural cousin), few have had the chance to appreciate the unique forms from Tahiti itself. While several groups in the Bay Area focus on the performing arts of Tahiti, it is still a rare opportunity to enjoy an evening- long show. 

In “Dances of Tahiti,” the audience will see a range of Tahitian dance from the slow, tranquil swaying of mehura and the upbeat, storytelling of ‘aparima to the fast, staccato hip movements of ‘ote’a. 

With a combination of slit-log, membrane and split-bamboo drums, the percussionists who comprise the Tahitian drum orchestra create amazingly intricate, interlocking rhythm patterns. 

“Dances of Tahiti” is created by Mahealani Uchiyama and performed by her group, Halau Ka Ua Tuahine. Uchiyama is an award-winning dancer, musician, composer, choreographer, recording artist and teacher, who has worked in the Bay Area for more than 25 years. An advocate for cultural understanding, she is the founder and artistic director of the Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance in Berkeley, where students of all ages and abilities can take part in culturally enriching dance experiences through traditional training, lectures, demonstrations, performance opportunities and workshops with master teachers. 

In addition to her performance and teaching, Uchiyama has served on the panel of judges for the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival and the Tahiti Fete of San Jose and Hilo. She is the former President of the Board of Directors of World Arts West, and is now co-artistic director of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. 

Uchiyama’s Halau Ka Ua Tuahine is an organization dedicated to the study, protection and perpetuation of the performing arts of Hawai’i and Tahiti. It is named after the gentle “sister” rain that falls in the valley of Manoa in Honolulu. The group has performed throughout California and internationally, appearing in venues from the Hollywood Bowl, the Heiva celebrations of Tahiti, French Polynesia and the National Museum of New Zealand.

With support from the Zellerbach Family Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation “Dances of Tahiti” is presented as part of Rhythmix Cultural Works’ Island Arts Concert Series, honoring island traditions from around the world on the Island of Alameda. More information and tickets are available at www.rhythmix.org.