HEIVA 2016 A CLOSER LOOK AT THE BEST SOLO PERFORMANCES
This year’s Heiva competition gave birth to extraordinary solo performances that were of a particularly high level. Tahiti Dance Online looks back at the best solo performances of 2016.
With a record number of 21 ‘Ori Tahiti groups competing at the Heiva this year we were privy to see an amazing level of performances from solo dancers to the point where, unlike the group categories which were fairly straight forward in terms of the final results, divided public opinion as everybody was left in suspense until the judges revealed their top pics. Local television station Tahiti Nui Television (TNTV) launched an online game where people coud vote for their best solo and as the Heiva progressed they would post all solo performances on their website immediately after their presentation. The day before the results came out TNTV posted data based on their top hits, this is what the public opinion results looked like:
Poll by Tahiti Nui Television (TNTV)
As we know now, the judges had a different podium in mind. Let’s first look at the best male soloist for 2016:
©Maison de la culture
Starting from the left, Tommy Tihoni from Pupu Tuha’a Pae ended up taking top honours as his solid and powerful pa’oti performance deservedly clenched the win, Tehere Tetuaiteroi from Hitireva with his innovative and sensual dance moves taking second place and outsider Tinomana Poetai from amateur group ‘Erai te Toa no Avera’ representing the island of Rurutu taking third place. A pretty classic looking podium with the top two gravitating towards to best with Tinomana being the exception.
© Stephane Maillion and Mike Leyral
Other male soloists worth mentioning (from left) are Moana Sandford from Tahiti ia Ruru-tu noa, winners of the Hura Ava Tau category who was also picked as one of the favourites for the podium because of his high performance and his experience coming from Makau Foster’s group Tamariki Poerani, Sven Janssen representing Hei Tahiti who is not a Tahitian native but born in Belgium of Scandinavian descent caused a debate among ‘Ori Tahiti specialists in terms of allowing foreigners to be presented in this category, Hei Tahiti’s group leader Tiare Trompette assured the Tahitian public that he had been preparing since 2005 and was the right candidate for them, and lastly crowd favourite Iopa Tahu representing Ahutoru Nui (and who got the most TNTV hits) who also won a special prize from the judges for his courageous performance, in particular because of the raging debate going on at the moment about bigger dancers being allowed into professional groups, Coco Tirao leader of Ahutoru Nui no doubt was looking to make a political statement.
The most debated results was that of the female soloist podium, let’s take a look:
© Maison de la culture
Tuiana Brodien (from left) representing the amateur group Tamari’i Vaira’o was the stand out performance of the Heiva ended up taking the number one spot, a girl who always dreamed of being the best solo dancer at the Heiva came from nowhere and even as the results were announced, she had to be asked to come down to the stage as she was sitting in the crowd surprised at the announcement, now she too has become a household name, Ocean Erhardt (middle) representing Tamari’i Mataiea had the most clicks according to TNTV and also took part in the Miss Tahiti pageant came in second with her amazing dance routine, third place winner from Hei Tahiti Toimatari’i Holman Mervin (right) swooped in to make the podium with her energetic presentation as she executed a fa’arapu from the back of the stage to the front in her opening segment. After viewing all female soloist performances throughout the Heiva it became clear that this would be the most sought after title as the level was particularly high in this category.
© Matarai and Anapa Production
Other high performances came from Tarato Temauriuri (once premiere danser from Ahutoru Nui) from amateur group Hei Rurutu who stunned the crowds with her rendition, Naiki Barrier from O Tahiti E who opened up the Heiva festivities on the first night, and perhaps the biggest upset was Loanah Wong Riveta representing Pupu Tuha’apae who is one of Tahiti Ora’s premiere dancers.
Ask any dancer and they will tell you, the ultimate goal is to one day be able to represent their group in the solo competition at the Heiva i Tahiti. This is where dreams are dashed or fulfilled as you put yourself out in front of the world in the hope of making the podium and becoming one of the best. Many dancers who have won the competition have moved on to become household names not to mention gaining accolades far and wide that would see them develop their dance careers both locally and internationally. In recent years, big names including Moena Maiotui, Asia Hammil, Hinavai Raveino, Tuari’i Tracqui, Johann Paheroo or Rangitea Bennet have been crowned the kings and queens of ‘Ori and most are now travelling the world teaching other enthusiasts about this unique and beautiful dance. In the end, the Heiva remains a fundamental cultural validation all solo dancers seek to achieve as they strive to be the best.