Your trip to Tahiti remains incomplete if you miss out on an opportunity to be a part of the ‘Heiva i Tahiti’, which is the Tahitian annual dance festival. Held every year in July, this festival brings various cultural groups and dance groups together providing a common platform for them to showcase their talents. This festival commences by the end of June and coincides with the French Polynesia’s Autonomy Celebrations.
The cultural groups from the archipelagos and the other islands unite for this event. You get to see the groups from the five archipelagos of French Polynesia, the other islands in Society Islands, the dance groups coming from the Tuamotus, the Australs, the Marquesas, and the Gambier Islands. To’ata Square acts as the main venue for the event every year. This is a waterfront zone in Papeete adjacent to the La Maison de la Culture. The huge open amphitheatre hosts the grand dance festivals including bright and conventional art and craft stalls.
In the last few years, the Tahiti culture has gone through a major makeover and this transformation has equally made its mark in the spheres of performing arts like singing, dancing, drumming and weaving etc. Even the art of tattooing in Tahiti has seen major transformations with bright and attractive color usage. For tattoo lovers this is a great opportunity to learn the colorful art form or get one done for them.
With bright and beautiful garlands, splendid headdresses and colorful skirts the Tahitian dance groups offer a great treat for the audiences. Their acrobatic dance to the beat of the drum and the bass is an awesome experience. ‘Heiva i Tahiti’ offers the very best of the singing, dancing and drumming talents in French Polynesia.
The 5 archipelagos of French Polynesia has distinct cultural heritage of their own. Their arts and crafts including sculpture and carvings are unique and different from one another. This is one broad arena that brings together some of the leading craftsmen and artist from all over French Polynesia. This exhibition is one great platform for the dexterous craftsmen to display their talents in carved artifacts, ornaments, pareo cloth, and hand-sewn quilts to name some. This is one great opportunity for the wandering tourists to gain some useful insight into the cultural treasures of Tahiti.
During this annual festival you might come across archery contests held at the sports fields and Tahiti’s harbor. The other types of sports you can checkout are javelin throwing and canoe racing.
Ori Tahiti and Himene: this is one major opportunity for the Tahitian’s to celebrate their culture. Ori Tahiti has come back to prominence, thanks to Heiva i Tahiti.
Stone lifting – also known as Amora’a Ofai, this game form originated in the Rurutu in Austral Islands. In this sport, the players have to lift a heavy stone very fast and balance it on their shoulder for some time. The ace sportsmen are capable of lifting to at least 150 kg.
Fruit-carrier race – this sport is also known as Timau Ra’au. Here the athletes have to race for apparently 1.8 km while carrying a fruits or vegetables weighing somewhere between 15 to 50 kg.
This season Heiva i Tahiti is due to begin by July 2011. The schools and groups wishing to participate for this event can get themselves registered at the Secretariat of Heiva Nui.