Ori Tahiti to be classified as Cultural Heritage at UNESCO
‘Ori Tahiti has long been one of the cultural pillars of Tahitian society and now Tahiti’s Ministry of Culture wants to classify the art form as Cultural Heritage at UNESCO. Tahiti Dance Online finds out more.
The Minister of Culture, Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu met with Pascal Lievaux in Paris, president of the Heritage Foundation in the General Directorate of Heritages of the Ministry of Culture at UNESCO. Discussions were held on the plan for the classification of ‘Ori Tahiti to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Unesco as envisaged by the country.
In this perspective, an important steps have been taken and should be finalized soon. It should make it possible to envisage, as of next year, the inscription of ‘Ori Tahiti in the national inventory of the intangible heritage, the first stage before filing the request for classification. This process will make it possible to assert the roots of this cultural practice in Polynesia.
A living art that is constantly renewing itself, a perfect link between a past rooted in our hearts and a promising future, ‘Ori Tahiti illustrates in many respects the stakes related to the traditional arts: we must know how to preserve and develop them. But the path is long and the difficulties more numerous than it seems: ‘Ori Tahiti is now practiced internationally on at least four continents.
The director of theTe Fare Tauhiti Nui Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu, one of the first defenders of the traditional arts, had notably discouraged the inclusion of culture as a part of the country’s development but in order to protect it internationally; same for the director of the Conservatory, Fabien Dinard, whose institution is one of the main tools for disseminating this art form, and who, during the Heritage Week, presented at the request of the government a work evoking the Procedures for the classification of national treasures on the list of world cultural heritage.
All initiatives in the public sector would be in vain without the presence, participation, endorsement and agreement of the groups, schools and associations of ‘Ori Tahiti. It is there that the federation of ‘Ori Tahiti, created two years ago and which currently groups nearly 30 dance groups (groups Hura Tau and schools) intervenes. The federation took an early interest in the question of the classification of ‘Ori Tahiti as a UNESCO World Heritage as intangible cultural property. “One reason for the existence of this federation is to reinforce the origin of the ‘Ori Tahiti,” explains Manouche Lehartel, president. And we decided to make the ranking project one of our main battle. ” This project is the business of the entire artistic community, groups, associations and of course the country. Together, everyone must lay down the bases of ‘Ori Tahiti so that we can finally speak the same language in terms of steps, movements, rhythms, songs, terms and definition.
“We have become aware of the spectacular development of our dance outside our borders,” says Lehartel. In Japan alone there would be 300,000 practitioners, the equivalent of our entire population. In the United States and Mexico, there are also thousands. A numerical superiority that can frighten and lead to irremediable confusion in terms of belonging. Through this process of classification, we simply wish to protect our heritage, to be certain that the world does not forget that ‘Ori Tahiti originates here in Tahiti.’ Another aspect seems primordial. The heads of prestigious groups are regularly invited to participate in Tahitian dance competitions abroad. “We sometimes see that it is something else, more akin to dancing gymnastics,” says the President of the Federation. Fabien Dinard and Manouche Lehartel find themselves on the essential, on the soul of the dance. “It is an art in which the technique of meaning and content can not be dissociated from the world view it expresses. Therefore, we want to share ‘Ori Tahiti but on the condition that we safeguard its essence for future generations. ”
“It seems obvious to me that the future of our traditional arts depends among other things on this classification,” admits Fabien Dinard, who also knows the reluctance of some to face this notion. “Our establishment will not impose anything on anyone. That is not our role. That said, we have been entrusted with the mission of teaching these arts, developing them and enhancing them. In opening this new chapter of ‘Ori Tahiti, we fulfill our missions fully, for it will lead to a legitimate representation of Polynesian culture on the same level as the great cultures of this world. ”
It is indeed high time. Everyone seems determined to advance, making each difference an opportunity to enrich and strengthen the marvelous world of ‘Ori Tahiti.