Pupu ‘Ori Te Nati, A Tahitian Dance School in Las Vegas

Reyden Morett visits a Tahitian Dance School in Vegas, and finds a powerful, positive affirmation of part of the Polynesian culture.

Lead instructors Jonathan Ludovico and Julie Charles go through a daily warmup routine with dancers. Starting at a slower pace, they gradually increase the pacing of their dancing warmup.

What Pupu ‘Ori Te Nati Hopes to Accomplish

While influencing Polynesian kids and families to stay connected to their cultural ties is a big priority, branching out to people of all different cultures is important as well at the Vegas dance school called Pupu ‘Ori Te Nati.

“Te Nati means the link all of us Polynesian people have with our ancestors and the cultural heritage left along for us,” dance instructor Jonathan Ludovico explained. “It can also mean the link all people around the world have with one another no matter what cultural background someone may come from. We are all humans who should strive to learn about one another’s culture and embrace them.”

Anyone who’s willing and wanting to respectfully learn all the different Polynesian cultures and dances are welcomed at this Tahitian Dance School. The school wants to show the world that what they offer is positivity and good influences on people of all ages, to help each individual strive to their fullest potential, while building their confidence to embrace who they are through dance.

Dancers Micah Kamanu and Jared Lum Lung practicing their technique and rhythm for their Tamaroa dance that they will be performing with the girl dancers at Pure Aloha.

Lessons For All

The Tahitian Dance School offers classes for all ages, starting with elementary kids. Groups are split up between three groups: beginners, intermediate, and advance.

While the girls/woman dance group is growing in numbers, the boys/men dance group is still looking to grow in size. “ Many boys and men can tend to feel more intimidated when joining a dance group due them feeling it’s not a masculine thing to do,” says male dancer Jared Lum Lung.

“The four of us guys currently dancing now can take this opportunity to show the male audience out there that it’s okay to show your passion and emotions through dance, and it doesn’t make you any less of a man.”

Intermediate Tamaroa dance group practices their craft and pacing for an upcoming Pure Aloha event.

Dancing Isn’t The Only Way, You Can also Drum Your Way Into Polynesian Culture

“ Some people love dancing and some are more passionate about drumming. Drumming can be another good outlet for Polynesian people to connect with their culture, as well as help other races better understand our culture,” lead drum instructor Kaniala Charles said.

Drumming is another class students at the school can take. Drumming and dancing in the Polynesian culture go hand and hand, you can’t really have one without the other.

Tahitian drumming group, lead by instructor Kaniala helps students perfect the song that the dancers will be performing to. Staying on beat is essential for the drummers as they set the tone and pacing for the dancers.

The Future Is Bright

The drummers and dancers often work together as a cohesive unit, feeding off each other’s energy.

Drumming is a good way for students to learn new skills and even help improve their dancing. Drumming teaches you to stay on beat and be able to switch up the flow at a given time while maintaining a good rhythm. This happens as well in dancing, changing up the pacing of the dance depending on the song and the way it flows.

“ Dancing has never been my thing, but I know it’s a big part of my Polynesian culture so I wanted to be involved with the school somehow,” female drummer Danny said. “So drumming quickly became my passion and helped me build more confidence in myself and learn more about my culture than I’ve ever known before.”

An advance Tamaroa group perfects their dance they will be performing alongside with the drummers at the upcoming Pure Aloha event.

Getting Ready for A Big Showcase

The Tahitian Dance School will be looking forward to performing at their next event Pure Aloha, in Las Vegas from April 21–24.

“ Our dancers and drummers are ready to show the crowd what they’ve learned. I’m excited for them and I believe they will do an amazing job representing the Polynesian culture. Love seeing them all connect with their culture and more importantly build confidence in themselves,” said founder and director of the school Julie Charles.

The dance school will give the audience a show to remember, while maybe also touching the hearts of Tahitian dancers and drummers of the future.

Reynolds Sandbox reporting by Reyden Morett

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Reynolds Sandbox

Reynolds Sandbox

Showcasing innovative and engaging multimedia storytelling by students with the Reynolds Media Lab in Reno.