Considered to be the first person that revived traditional dance, Madeleine Moua is a very respected Ori Tahiti icon. Madeleine Teroroheiarii Moua was born in 1899 and started dancing with her friends at the age of 6 years old. She got married at 22 and had 5 children, then divorced later after.
When working as a schoolteacher she visited France where she discovered that regional dances were valued, once back home she decided to bring Ori Tahiti back to light.
In 1956, she created the first Ori Tahiti group composed of dancers from known families called Heiva Tahiti.
She is credited for changing the public’s perception of Tahitian dance by: the costumes, the steps, the nudity of the body, everything was studied twice. She gave her costumes so much importance, that everyday someone would be working on an outfit at her house. With her son-in-law, she had the idea of using coconut shells for what we call ‘’Tapea titi coco’’ as a braw while dancing. She also had the chance to play in three movies thanks to her talent.
What’s more, she was part of the first Tahitians to travel around the world from Europe to America, Australia, New- Zealand…to promote Tahiti’s tourism thanks to their dance shows.
Madeleine Moua was a very charming complete lady who had a lot to teach. Some may say that she was a little bit harsh by moments but she liked things to be done perfectly and her education raised her to overcome her fears. She loved her culture, she was passionate about dancing but she couldn’t bear the idea of seeing the Tahitian dance modernized. She wanted it to evolve, she was happy to know there was competition but she didn’t want it to be mixed with other dances from different countries to please the world. And she didn’t like the Tahitian dance to be called ‘’Tamure’’ that she thinks is awful, she preferred ‘’Ori Tahiti’’.
In a nutshell, all her hard work, her perseverance and her passion is what left us a part of today’s heritage.
She says: ‘‘here there are a lot of noises. The rhythm of the waves beating on the reef, the rhythm of the wind […] that hits the walls of the valley back and forth, it gives a special rhythm that imitates the sound of the drums and naturally the little girl’s hips starts tossing. I really think that is where our dance is born. The rhythm of nature, isn’t that what is really true? That’s what created our special way of
Photos : Internet & Archives ICA