This past Friday I went to the Living Legends performance, which focuses on dance from Native American, South American, and Polynesian cultures. It was an interesting experience to see distinct differences in dance styles and what the dances were to represent. Many of the Polynesia dances didn't involve much movement around the stage, but rather focused on moving their hips and arms. One Samoan dances looked like it was a party with someone calling the movements out in the front while everyone sat in lines. The only Tongan dance they had was used to represent rebirth. It was just women dancing for the most part with the men joining in later from what I remember. The movements were very fluid and controlled. Also in comparison to other Polynesian cultures, the costumes or dress were very modest. The women wore dresses covering their shoulders and down to their calves. The men wore white shirts and the ta'ovalo. Also in Polynesian cultures singing was more closely associated with the dance. I'm not sure if that's just the dances they picked, but often Polynesian dances had an individual or group providing the music. With that in mind it seems that more often than not the more people that can be included the better. While there was structure to the dance, it seemed as though it was meant to be done in large groups. Whereas in the Latin cultures it seemed that things like the Tango were to be performed more than just done for the sake of doing it.
Another interesting aspect of the experience was the involvement of the audience. There was a lot of yells and people really getting into watching the performance. Many of the people were likely family or friends of the performers but it was still interesting to see how much pride many people had in their culture as it was performed on stage. It will be interesting to see cultural events as they really are in Tonga.