I was inspired by Saturday’s bottle dance to search for traditional dances from other countries. Wow, did that ever send me down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos. There were so many to pick from, but I ultimately decided to go with this traditional dance from Tonga. It’s called Tau’olunga, and it’s mainly performed by single women on days of celebration, including weddings and birthdays. This particular video is from a festival, so I’m not sure if this performance is celebrating anything in particular. But I chose it specifically because it was one of the few Tau’olunga videos that I could find that was actually filmed in Tonga. Almost everything else on YouTube was from international performances.
I chose Tau’olunga itself because of the movements of the dance. Unlike most Polynesian dances, shaking the hips is not allowed, and the legs have to stay together with only small steps allowed. This means that the majority of the performance comes from the hands and arms. The hand movements are called haka, and while some gestures are standardized across all dances, most are stylized to whomever is performing. This gives each performance a special meaning that is unique to each performer.
Overall, this dance is so graceful and beautiful. I love it. As always, I’d prefer to see this performance in person. But until the world opens up again, I’ll happily continue to go down these rabbit holes on YouTube. There’s just so much to learn and discover.
Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!