By Polynesian Cultural Blogger Bobby Akoi, Jr. 


Have you ever been to a Polynesian show and watched as the female dancers moved their hips in circles at a crazy fast speed? Do you want to know how they do it?  It’s actually very simple, but it takes a lot of practice.  This Tahitian Dance is called ‘Tamure’.

Now I don’t profess to be a ra’atira pupu (leader/teacher of a Tahitian group).  However, I’ve been around Tahitian dancing long enough to understand its dance moves. Having two daughters growing up and dancing Tahitian at the Polynesian Cultural Center, it has made me appreciate this part of the Tahitian cultural tradition.  

Tahitian dance is exuberant and vibrant, and has a long history of cultural significance. These dances are associated with certain events and occasions, and there are multiple dance steps. The dance moves are never set in stone, and rather there exists an open classification that gives room for creation. For educational purposes, here a five basic steps for women: tamau, tairi tama, varu, otamu, and fa’arapu.  From these five original steps exists a multitude of variation steps that also have their own variations. 



I will go over the basic steps with you but before I do, there are three important things that one must keep in mind at all times:

  1. You can’t move your shoulders or the top of your body. So relax the shoulders.

You should not be able to tell the bottom half of your body is moving from looking at your upper body.

  1. Feet must be together and not apart. Stand with your heels together, toes slightly apart.
  2. Got to bend your knees. It’s all in the knees.

Now, let’s begin!

Step 1:

This step is called the Tamau.  This is done by bending your knees and again STILL shoulders. Push your right knee back causing your right hip to softly jut out to the right. Now the push the left knee back causing your left hip to jut out to the left. Alternate left, right, left, right, smooth not sharp.

Step 2:

The next step is called the Tairi Tama. Similar to the Step 1, it’s sharp movements can become faster. Snap your right and then left knee back making hips to snap left and right. Keep shoulders still and knees bent. Drop body low.

Step 3:

Varu is fun! It is a Figure 8 motion. Slow and smooth push your right hip out to the front and around to the right then back right into the left hip moving forward around to the left and back then right again in a continuous figure 8 with hips.

Step 4:

Otamu is a BOX. Snap your hip to the front right then back right then left back and left front. Pretend you are standing in a box. Your hips should hit each corner one at a time. 1,2,3,4!

Step 5:

Now for the most important and difficult step, the Fa’arapu! This is the very fast impressive move you gawk at when you watch a lu’au. Everyone has a naturally more comfortable direction that their hips naturally like to move in. So begin again by bending your knees and keeping the shoulders still. Push hips out in a smooth circle (Ami) then go faster and faster and faster. Try the other direction.


As you become more comforable with these moves, you can do them with the knees more bent or on your toes.

You may not end up at the PCC Ha’ Breath of Life night show, but as you practice these steps, you might surprise yourself.

I’ve come to a realization that the secret to the Tamure is between the knees and the smile.

Good luck!