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Dance Research Paper - Mȃori (New Zealand) (Essay Sample)


Your research needs to focus on a traditional ethnic dance form that is more than 120 years old. Your thesis needs to reveal the primary function of dance in your chosen society and emphasize either (1) the expression of that form away from its homeland ( the dance form in diaspora), or (2) the dance form as an expression of power and/or resistance. Additionally, your research will offer a variety of ways of looking at the dance, such as consideration of the culture\'s history, environment, economics and worldview.

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The Haka is a type of Mȃori (New Zealand) war dance which was used to display power while out in the battlefield. It is an ancient dance which displays the pride of a tribe, how it is united and strength. The Haka dance has its origin which dates back to many years and this dance reflects how the Mȃori people have a rich folklore and a legend that surrounds the dance. The dance still exists today and its status of displaying power has been retained. There are actions that accompany the dance and these include stamping the feet vigorously, protruding tongues and slapping of the chest and thighs rhythmically. There are also loud chants that are made. The words that accompany the dance also have messages poetically composed which seek to praise the ancestors and describe some of the events in the history of the tribe.
History of the Haka Dance
Haka was first used by chief Tinirau and some of his women. As the story goes, Tinirau’s pet whale had been killed and he wanted revenge in turn. He sent a group of women hunters to find, Kae, a priest who was responsible for the killing of the whale. These women hunters did not know how this priest looked like, but they knew one thing about him; his teeth overlapped over each other and they were uneven. When the women were in the village where the priest was purported to be, they performed the Haka dance so as to force a smile from the men. Through smiling, they could easily find out the identity of Kae. Through the Haka dance, the women were able to capture the priest and took him captive to their master where the priest was killed, (New Zealand Tourism Guide, 1).
Meaning of Haka
The word Haka simply means dance, or a song that is also accompanied by a dance. However, there is more to the Haka than just song and dance. Haka is encompassed by the actions of the dancers, the words they utter, the rhythm they are engaged in, the meaning of the song being danced to and the meaning of the dance and also the history and the style of the Haka. There are various variations of the types of war dances; however, the common factor among them all is that these dances are performed with weapons as a sign of power and dominance.
During the early times, the Haka was use as a part of the formal process when there were two parties coming together. Firstly, a challenge came from the Tangata Whenua, a tribe which came from that area, and then a response came from the Manuhiri; this is the party that visited. Then the tribe of that area would perform a Haka Peruperu and then the visitors would perform a Haka in response. Speeches would follow from the parties involved and then the members of the party would move towards each other to press their noses against each other in greeting, (Cunningham, 13).
Types of the Haka Dance
There are three types of the Haka dance;
Whakatu waewae
Tutu ngarahu
One of the characteristics of the Peruperu dance is leaping into the air while the legs are firmly pressed under the body. Earlier before, this dance was performed prior a battle so as to invoke the god of war to give the warriors power. This dance was also to instill fear and discourage the enemy. Scary and fierce facial expressions were also involved with grimaces, the action of poking out the tongue, bulging eyes, grunting and crying also the brandishing of weapons while advancing. The dance had to be performed in unison; otherwise it was a bad sign, a bad omen, (McLintock, 95).
The other dance is the Tutu ngarahu. This dance also involved jumping but, from side to side. As for the Whakatu waewae, there is no jumping. There is also another type of the Haka called the Ngeri. This dance does not involve any type of weapon. This dance was performed so as to empower the warriors psychologically. The movements involved here were free flowing and everyone involved in the dance was to express their feelings. Manawa wera, another type of Haka, was specifically used for funerals or any other occasion that involved death.
How the Haka is used presently
The people of New Zealand and people from other parts of the world have come to get used to Haka dance being used by sporting teams. An example is the All Blacks, a rugby national team of New Zealand that performs the Haka dance with passion and pride. The dance is now an icon of New Zealand and it has increased in terms of popularity and recognition because of these sporting teams that have reclaimed the dignity of the dance which was attached to the traditional art form.
The Haka is now a symbol of power of the All Blacks and it has complemented their status in the rugby arena. The team has earned attributes like invincible and ruthless from the dance itself and it is partly due to the way the all Blacks perform the Haka.
There is also the New Zealand army which also has formulated its own Haka dance. The dance is opened and closed by the female soldiers and the dance acknowledges the place they occupy in the army.
Through these adaptations of the Haka dance, it is evident that it is now a form of national expression. Trade delegates and officials attending to state functions overseas request the Haka dancers to accompany them as a show of power that the country possesses. This is also one of the ways that the Haka dance is being marketed to other parts of the world. The Haka dance being an icon of New Zealand, the citizens treat it with respect because it defines the people.
Ballet Dance Vs Haka Dance
Ballet dance is a performance dance and it originates from Italy. From Italy, it developed into a dance performed at concerts in countries like France and Russia. Since then, it has grown in terms of popularity and it is widespread, (Anderson, 29).
One similarity between the two dances is that they are both ancient and ethnic. The ethnicity of ballet is vividly described by Kealiinohomoku, (2013). Its ethnicity is revealed in the use of curtain calls and applause and the three part performance that is usual, lasting about two hours. There is also the use of French vocabulary while referring to ballet. The ethnicity of ballet is also evident in the kinds of plants and animals which are of regular appearance; for example, the horses and the swans are regarded as esteemed fauna and as for the plants, the grains, roses and lilies are plants that are suitable and valued. In the same way, The Haka dance is also ethnic. The dance originates from New Zealand native Maori tribesmen. It portrays their culture and that is why the dance is held with respect; being performed on special occasions only to date. They have existed since the mist of time dating back to the 15th century. Due to this long history, both dances have come to be appreciated and respected, being performed on special occasi...
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