TUIANA BRODIEN QUEEN OF THE HEIVA 2016
The Heiva i Tahiti 2016 was a game changer in terms of the level of solo dancing competition with Tuiana Brodien taking the top prize and crowned Queen of the Heiva this year. Tahiti Dance Online takes a closer look at her story.
In Tahiti every little girls’ dream is to grow up and become the next Miss Tahiti but for dancer Tuiana Brodien her childhood dream was to be best solo female dancer at the Heiva i Tahiti, a dream that came true in July of this year. From the young age of 3 years old her parents signed her up for her very first dance class at the Conservatoire where she would learn from experts Pauline Dexter and Vanina Ehu then continuing her path with Moeata Laughlin (judge at the Heiva i Tahiti 2016) and Tumata Robinson. In order to perfect her skills she would go on to participate in her first Heiva in the Hura Ava Tau section with Teva i Tai at the age of 13 years old and then subsequently joining professional groups such as Les Grands Ballets de Tahiti, Hei Tahiti, Tahiti Ora and most recently Tamariki Poerani with Makau Foster. An exceptional dance apprenticeship that would lead her to live her life to the beat of ‘Ori Tahiti and eventually fulfil her dream of becoming a professional dancer and win the Heiva crown.
During the prize giving, Tuiana sat among the crowd in the grand stand watching representatives from all groups sitting on the stage anticipating the results. Although her dance routine was of a high standard she did not expect to be on the podium therefore sitting away from the stage. When the results were read out and her name came out on top, the spotlight quickly panned to where she was sitting as everybody cheered her on, tears of joy ran down her face. She reacted by stating that ‘because of the high standard of solo female dancers this year, she was pleasantly surprised and ecstatic’ saying that ‘when the judges announced my name, wow, I managed to be on top of the other girls, the stress falls, you feel joy, I was happy, those were tears of joy’. As she came down the steps of the grand stand she showed emotion and expressed her joy once she arrived on the stage to claim her prize.
When asked about dancing Tuiana responds by saying ‘it’s my whole life, the way I live, the way I am, if I were to calculate in percentages I would say it represents 80% of my time’. After accumulating experience in many of the top groups in Tahiti and performing at hotel shows and international performances, in 2010 she decided to take her dance passion to the next level by quitting her job and opening her very own dance school called ‘Vahineri’i’ in Vaira’o, Tahiti. Two years later she would move to New Caledonia where by chance the Games of the Pacific had just started, so Tuiana decided to organise an impromptu dance marathon with the audience, which ultimately lead to the creation of a dance school where in the end 110 pupils would sign up. Two years later she would move back to Tahiti to continue her dance school and her passion for ‘Ori Tahiti.
Now that she has fulfilled her dream as best female solo at the Heiva, her advice to those who want to follow in her footsteps is pretty inspiring. In her words, she says that dancers need to ‘englobe everything, basic steps, posture, presence on stage’ and quotes ‘Ori Tahiti stalwart Madeleine Moua by saying that ‘dance was created by the rhythm of nature’ and that Tahitian music and dancing is an interpretation of the environment that surrounds us because the ‘rhythm of nature is the most true’ and when you are able to connect to nature, you can share ‘real emotion’. Her dance idols include Madeleine Moua, Jeaninne Maru and Mehiti Hart. Now recently dancing in Makau’s Tamariki Poerani she says that her capacity to dance with feeling and emotion rose as Tuiana feels that ‘today we see lots of good technique but not everyone can give emotion’ and this is what differentiates between a good and mediocre dancer.
Mother of 7 year old Tevaihau, Tuiana continues to live her passion through her dance school. In years to come, we look forward to seeing a lot more of Tuiana with her energetic and poised dance style. The coveted best female solo crown will always be the most prized at the Heiva, where many other little girls’ dreams’ lie.