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Back to Moana: Hawaiian Fire Dances

Dances have always been a form of human expression and the perfect way to bring people together. Every nation around the world has experienced meeting and dating around the fire as a form of socializing. The beautiful luaus in Hawaii showcase the variety of dances performed from island to island, having love as the main theme. These shows involve daring acts of fire displays.

The roots of fire dancing go back to old Polynesian customs. In Maori culture women used to practice poi for entertainment purposes (while storytelling or singing or dancing). The female performers would mesmerize their audience by rhythmically swinging weights according to geometric patterns. Men also would use it to increase their masculinity and show their strength. Maori poi has developed two versions : a short form with strings equal to the length of the fingertips to the wrist and a long form with strings equal to the distance from fingertips to shoulder.

Fire practices nowadays have become really complex and detailed. On one hand they have become an exotic art (fire games with weaves, butterflies and flowers out of flames), but on the other hand they are considered a very good body workout (cardiovascular and strength training, mental health). Moreover the festival of the Burning Man seems to remind us that artistic self-expression and fire can bring people together and build unity. Media and in particular Disney has drawn attention to the rich cultural heritage of Hawaii and has produced a new warrior princess called Moana.

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