Dance & Drums

  • Mike Teruya / Special to TGIFR!DAY

    Emmsley Drake performs at the 2017 Heiva I Kauai.

  • Mike Teruya / Special to TGIFR!DAY

    Young dancers stand out at Heiva I Kauai.

  • Mike Teruya / Special to TGIFR!DAY

    Exhibitions are a traditional part of Heiva I Kauai.

  • Mike Teruya / Special to TGIFR!DAY

    Solo competition at Heiva I Kauai is popular among the men and women, and boys and girls.

It’s easy to know when the annual Heiva I Kauai is going on.

The drums.

You’ll hear them from blocks away. They echo down the streets and around the corners of Kapaa. And then, you’ll hear the cries and yells of the dancers.

These are enticing sounds, and people, mesmerized, follow them and gladly hand over the $7 entry fee so they can watch and soak in the magic of this annual Tahitian dance and drumming competition.

This weekend, it’s the 18th one. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Kapaa Beach Park. It will feature traditional and contemporary solo and team competitions, plus professional dance exhibitions daily, including guest performances by Oahu’s Te Vai Ura Nui.

Cultural demonstrations include locally made lauhala hats, Niihau shell lei, coconut weaving, fire-knife dancing, wood turning and Pacific island artists, island foods and Polynesian crafts available, with a silent auction each day.

Naomi Baldomero of Te Vai Ura Nui was all smiles last year during and after the performance of shaking, swirling and swiveling. Their group is high-energy, full of joy that seemed to spill over into the audience.

In an interview with TGIFR!DAY, Baldomero said it’s important to share the Tahitian culture “in the right way.”

“We come here each year and we’re grateful to be here,” she said. “It’s such a good energy and feeling. It’s a nice family event.”

Kauai’s Chaz Sasil with Ori Uvira has been in the competition each year.

“I always look forward to it,” he told TGIFR!DAY before dancing last year. “It’s cool how everyone comes together from the different islands as one island.”

The annual Heiva I Kauai Iorana Tahiti festival is important culturally to the dancers and artists who take pride in who they are and what they do. Dancers make their own costumes.

Participants come from Hawaii, the mainland and Japan, from toddler to elder, and will be performing group competitions and exhibition dances portraying legends and stories of Tahiti.

There are two main styles of Tahitian dance: otea is to drums, while aparima is to lyrics.

The solo competition is Saturday, while the group competition is Sunday.

Organizers say both days showcase something new and beautiful. Beyond the dancing, the festival is aimed at providing a venue for the next generation of performers to present their talent, skill and cultural knowledge to an audience of more than 1,500 attendees daily.

Everyone loves the costumes, flora, music and opportunity to see children and adults of all ages compete in group and solo Tahitian dance.


Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or


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