Polynesian dance DVDs are serving as an unexpected benefit to the cultures of the Pacific islands. For many years these cultures were struggling to preserve their heritage, especially in the arts, against the influx of foreigners as global travel became commonplace. Though there were some attempts to spread their culture through touring and special events, the traditions and practices were dwindling and being lost. With the advent of digital media readily available to the masses, however, the process of recording and distributing many aspects of Polynesian culture, including dance, has taken off. The internet enables people all over the world to discover the beauty of Polynesian dance, to learn more about its actual roots and meanings, and order DVDs and books about the subject quickly and easily.
Polynesian Dances Available on DVD
The DVDs available roughly fall into three categories: instructional, documentatary, and cross-cultural.
Instructional Dance DVDs
As with any dance DVD, it needs to be realized that no video instructor can give as high-quality a lesson as a qualified dance instructor at a studio. The feedback and ability to focus on specific parts of each dance is invaluable.
Of course, it is also expensive, and a DVD only requires that a student pay once for an infinite number of lessons - or, at least, the same lesson an infinite number of times. One needs to be careful that the DVD is produced by a qualified and legitimate instructor. Many popular dances such as the hula are taught at various levels, usually with several views of the dancers and accommodations made for varying levels of experience and ability. For example, on Myriah's Polynesian Bazaar, there are DVDs available for both advanced dancers and beginners.
These Polynesian dance DVDs should only be looked at as an introduction and step towards getting a live instructor to correct mistakes in technique and provide a more authentic experience.
The term "Polynesian dance" is misleading, as it implies one type of dance. In fact, the area covered by that term is as wide as the Pacific itself, ranging from Hawaii to New Zealand, with many differences in the types of dances, the purpose of the dances, and the history of their development.
Documentation of these types of dances is an essential part of preserving the heritage of these cultures. At the same time, the DVD format allows for commentary tracks and special features to more completely explain the context and background of each dance. While many books have been written on Polynesian dance over the years, the moving pictures on the video are worth millions of words, instantly conveying the rhythm, tone, and motion of the dances in a way that previous generations couldn't dream of.
Almost every region has had videographers come and film the dances, producing hundreds of DVDs which record esoteric dances such as the Haka and Poi Ball dances of New Zealand, the Samoan slap dance, and the arts of islands such as Guam and New Caledonia. In addition, the cultural spectacles that have brought the culture to tourists and traveled to foreign lands can be filmed and kept long after the theatres have closed. Shows such as "Marquesan Fire" from Moorea, French Polynesia have been captured to DVD and are now available for the world to view.
Cross-Cultural Dance DVDs
The use of DVD to record Polynesian dance is more than freezing the culture in place - it has enabled artists to combine dance forms and re-purpose the dances. One popular and obvious hybrid is the combination of Tahitian dance and hip-hop, with the hip movements blending to mashups of the traditional music with urban beats. There is also an entire industry of using the dance training as a physical workout, increasing core strength through traditional dance techniques.
Add Them to Your Collection
These DVDs have helped spread the beauty of the cultural dances of the Pacific islands to the rest of the world. They are an essential part of any dance aficionado's library.