As a teenager, Coco Hotahota started dancing in 1958 in the first professional Ori Tahiti group founded by Madeleine Moua: Heiva. Which was a great opportunity for him to gain more experience.
In February 1962, he created his own group called Temaeva, a combination of audacity and avant-gardism that was never seen before. The particularity of his dance was the feeling, that connection that a word had with its gesture. For Coco Hotahota, words have more importance than the sound. He would actually start working on the choreography based on the lyrics before the music was even done.
In 1969, the group won the grand prizes of traditional dance, best orchestra and the most beautiful costumes. During its rich history, Temaeva won the contest fourteen times.
Although Coco said farewell to the Heiva in 1992, he made a wonderful come back in 1999 by winning the first prize. He finds his motivation in ‘’the youth, their dreams, their passion. I love their arrogance because that’s how we move on.’’
Then he came back to the Heiva 10 years later to celebrate the 50 years of his group with the show ‘’Tahiti terre du jouir, navenave fenua’’ where he brought back all the former dancers as a symbol of life and revival, without leaving aside his unforgettable and magnificent pa’oti (dance that men do).
However, Coco’s entertainments didn’t always please, it also bothered. In 1980, he made his dancers wear cans of food to denounce the modernist drift. In 1997, his dancers were dressed in an unusual way, the men were wearing a black tuxedo with an umbrella and the ladies a black dress with high heels and white gloves. It was his way of showing the world that the dance has to evolve but not in the modern way, we should go back in the pass, learn our ancestor’s movements and put it our way so it collides with our generation.
Nowadays, Coco’s character and heritage is a treasure for anyone eager to learn about the Ori Tahiti.
Today, he organizes the international Heiva ‘’Farereira’a’’ to pay tribute to all the Ori Tahiti groups from overseas.
Photo © DR