I am so proud and honored to represent Huraiti Mana at the first-ever Hura Tini competition at this year's Heiva i Honolulu, an incredible opportunity to compete not in age categories but in a two-part competition of mehura and ote'a, the two signatures of Tahiti Nui International competitions. I also owe all my love and knowledge of ori Tahiti to the Pupu Ori I grew up with and have shaped the path of my ori life, Ma'ohi Nui. Mauruuru roa to Marisol for creating a beautiful mehura outfit for me in brilliant red to perform an impromptu number. Maruuru to my Huraiti Mama who, as always, was backstage with me, detailing my looks and making sure I eat! Mauruuru to all my 'ohana, including all my huraiti at Huraiti Mana, and most especially e ku'uipo! Our community has been so incredibly supportive and loving, sending all their mana to us wherever we've traveled. It's been a great long year of growth and learning, and I am so honored to round out Huraiti Mana's 2019 year of competition with a 4th Overall Win at Hura Tini! We will continue to hone our techniques and improve our skills as we head into 2020!
Meeting the huraiti in Kaua'i felt like the rightful culmination of our year-long solo competition journey as a team: all the solo competition practice hours, all the sweat, all the air travel, the rent-a-cars, the hotels and workshops. It's all lead us to a beautiful long weekend in the Garden Isle, Kaua'i island. With flying in two days prior to the competition (and not the morning-of!), we were able to rest, relax, and spend daylight hours picking fresh vegetation and weaving our regalia pieces. We practiced on the white-sand beaches and, in the calm of the waves, performed an impromptu hule mele, Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai for and to the kai (ocean) itself. I am happy to bring back 3rd place for our Pupu Ori, Huraiti Mana's first-ever award in the Hawaiian islands! We set the stage ablaze in the Hawai'i heat, and returned home beautifully connected. Mahalo a mauruuru roa e ku'u vahine huraiti! Maita'i 'outou!
Mahalo to all who made Heiva i Kaua'i possible with the many talented vendors, amazing Pupu Ori in group competition, and all the supporting 'ohana! Organizers of the fete were so interested to hear we were from Seattle, as do all organizers and participants with every competition we attend. Seattle is home to a rich Polynesian community and dancing community we are so very honored to represent! To dance and make Tahitian people proud is our humble passion and blessing.
Huraiti Mana made our first-ever appearance at Hura Tahiti 2019! It was a very, very long road, even in comparison to all the traveling we had done thus far for solo competitions! Landing back in California, we fought a that famous CA traffic, arriving to our hotel with barely any minutes to spare before heading to our Ori Tahiti workshops with master Hirohiti Tematahotoa (and sister Diva!!), ra'atira of Hanatika and director of Ecole de Danse de Tahitienn e Heiva in Papeete. After 11 total hours of travel, we showed up to our first workshop, the mehura, coming in hot off the freeway and spent the next amazing 5 hours learning, dancing, and having an amazing time. Our second workshop for Ote'a quickly changed and morphed into an amazing Ori Tahiti Solo competition workshop with both Hiro and Diva providing invaluable feedback for each dancer - from the young tamari'i in the class to each Huraiti who were soaking up every word. Hiro and Diva are so full of ite, so full of knowledge and strength and love and passion. Diva, we also learned, was crowned the best dancer at Heiva i Tahiti in the 80s and was the first ori Tahiti dancer to introduce the tifeni with a fa'arapu! My hero!
We hope to bring Hiro up to Seattle sometime soon to partake in an Ori Tahiti dance workshop in the Pacific Northwest! As Huraiti Mana continues to learn and grow here in Seattle, was also want to continue to find ways to contribute to this rich Polynesian, Tahitian dance community in the PNW.
Leaving the workshops around 11PM, we headed back to our hotels to begin working on our regalia pieces. My mother spent a sleepless night sewing every petal onto my tape'a titi (top) while I braided my hei upo'o (headpiece) and sewed song of India to my huraiti's hei upo'o. We recommend never to spend the entire night before a long competition creating your regalia - but with the beautiful workshops we attended and the amazing people we met, we wouldn't have it any other way. Traveling, we weren't able to bring tents to shade us in the outdoor changing areas - but we were lucky in finding shade beneath a staircase area next to an amazing and talented group of tamari'i from Pupu Ori Te Vaka Nui (who put on the Ori Fest we attended shortly before this competition!). We suited, we danced, and we thoroughly enjoyed. We didn't bring in a W this time, but it was a priceless opportunity to connect, to grow, and to be a part. Mahalo to everyone at Hura Tahiti 2019!
Huraiti Mana's first time joining Te Ori Here solo dance competition featuring Sefa Drums as the house drummers! Our idols! As expected, Sefa drumbeats were electric and truly intensified our performance! We're so happy to have had the opportunity to dance live to these amazingly talented and creative drumming masters, especially after hearing their Moemoea album for so long.
This was one of our Huraiti's first-ever solo competition, and we're so immensely proud of her! She flew a red-eye flight from Seattle to San Fransico after emceeing a late-night event, spent the night at the airport, and flew in hot-off-the-press Saturday morning straight into the competition! DEDICATION! We've found that traveling for solo competitions can be difficult, but workshops, meeting new dancers, and competing, can be so incredibly rewarding! Eci and I made it to finals but didn't bring in the top 3 in our categories this time! Mahalo and mauruuru to all those who work so diligently to create an amazing event.
Huraiti Mana made a splash at our very first trip to Ori Fest in Las Vegas, NV! Huraiti spent the night before the prestigious competition at the host Pupu Ori's studio, Tevakanui, for 4 hours of ori workshops with judges Tylon Buendia and Adelina Hanere. Their spirit, wisdom, and love for ori Tahiti was palpable, and it was an evening spent among so many talented and passionate dancers. Tylon reminded us that we dance in competitions to not only compete but to meet others and to share in this love we have for Ori Tahiti! We continue to learn and grow, together. Adelina showed us the power we have as strong women in ori Tahiti - a theme that found its way into the forces of the competition itself!
After a hard fought Ori Tahiti first and final round, I was fortunate to bring home first place in ages 23-27 category, celebrating a first-ever win for our Huraiti Mana! Taking first in another age category was none other than my own Ra'atira from (previously) Ma'ohi Nui of O'ahu and now currently Ra'atira of Ali'itasi of Utah, Agnes Manuma! For the first time in over a decade since moving from O'ahu and last seeing each other, I was honored to dance onstage alongside Agnes! But for the first time ever, we were competing together for the Overall Grand Prize! Along with renowned dancer Melanie Amen, the three of us tied for Overall. We were asked to dance again - and this time, with a surprise theme!
The theme: Toa Hine.
It was a battle of strength, knowledge, and passion. After such a powerful performance, my ra'atira Agnes took home the grand champion overall prize! I'm so proud to have learned from her and owe so much to her for my love and strength in ori Tahiti. Mauruuru e Agnes! Can't wait to see you again at the next competition. She truly is the embodiment of toa hine. A woman warrior.
I'm so proud of our huraiti Katie & Eci for competing in such a challenging and exciting competition. They inspire me and motivate me to continue working and to represent Huraiti Mana to the very best of my ability. Their fire and strength empowered me throughout the night. All my love & aloha to their dedication, perseverance, and strength. Together, we all are toa hine!
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