Traditional rhythms are binary, which means that they consist of either two or four beats. All music that we listen to today that is in opposition to this principle represents an imported element (waltz, five beat rhythm, ternary rhythm).
All Tahitian dance techniques are derived from the one-two formula, or one-two-three-four.
Motions in space are strictly linked to beats despite the fact that one can dance equally with either the rhythm or the beat.
Therefore, on a four beat, dancers will move their hips a total of four times in order to form one complete step or three times for a marked step.
In this scenario, the fourth beat is either marked or corresponds to the continuation of the movement executed by the hip.
Choreographers can either form dance steps without the presence of music, the latter being composed afterwards, or compose choreography using music provided.
Dances on either chanted or recited music are always composed with the music present.
For further reading, see book chapter “The Writing of Music”
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