Greetings from the Drum Beats
Founded in 1990, Iaorana te Otea (Tahitian for "greetings from the drum beats") is a Polynesian dance group at UCSB. Since then, we have celebrated the dynamic cultures of the Polynesian islands. Our club is diverse in cultures as well as experience. We welcome members of any background and any experience level. The only requirement is enthusiasm for Polynesian culture and dance. Our purpose is to educate our community and ourselves, and most of all, create enjoyment through our music and dance.
We perform two different types of Polynesian dances: the hula and the ote'a. The hula is a dance form accompanied by chant or song. It was developed in the Hawaiian islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there. The chant or song is called an aparima. The aparima is also known as the "Tahitian hula" and it literally means the kiss of the hands, or to tell a story with the hands. Hula encompasses an enormous variety of styles and moods, ranging from solemn or sacred to playful and energetic. Aparimas may recount legends and the history of the islands, praise Polynesian gods, offer a prayer, seduce someone, praise a lover, or tell a love story.
An ote'a is a traditional Tahitian dance performed and also directly linked with all aspects of life. One would dance for joy, to welcome a visitor, to pray to a god, to challenge an enemy, or to seduce a mate. The dance is set to music only. Drums are usually the main instrument, but there is no singing. For the men, the themes can be chosen from warfare or sailing, and then they may use spears or paddles. For women the themes are closer to home, such as themes from nature, combing their hair, or the flight of a butterfly (more elaborate themes may also be chosen). In a proper ote'a the story of the theme should pervade the whole dance.