Fiji’s dance traditions reflect the country’s diverse cultures. While modern instruments such as guitar and mandolin have become prevalent, traditional Fijian dances remain a vital part of the nation’s culture.
The Fijian Meke
The Fijian Meke is a popular dance style, combining dance and storytelling through song. The dance is performed by both men and women and is viewed as a group collaboration. Men showcase strong, virile movements, while women demonstrate grace and femininity. The meke has several variations, including the war dance, men’s spear dance, men’s or women’s fan dance, and sitting dance. The performance is accompanied by rhythmic clapping and beating of the lali, a traditional Fijian drum. The dance is commonly performed at special functions and cultural nights hosted by major resorts. At the conclusion of the meke, visitors are often invited to join in and perform a simple dance movement known as the taralala.
Fiji’s dance culture is a unique blend of various ethnicities and their respective traditional dances. Poi, a dance form borrowed from New Zealand’s Maori people, is a popular dance in Fiji, commonly performed at fire-walking shows. In this dance, women swing balls tied to ropes rhythmically while often mixing singing with traditional poi dance movements.
Indo-Fijian dance is also an essential component of Fiji’s dance scene, with the Indian Cultural Center in Suva offering training in seven classical Indian dance styles, with Bharathnatym and Kathak being the most popular. Each movement and gesture in these dances signifies a specific meaning, and together they tell a story through dance, similar to the Fijian meke.
Both Fijian and Indian dances are taught in schools, providing a platform for children and choreographers to experiment with fusion dances. The University of the South Pacific in Suva is also known for hosting multicultural dance and music functions. Nightclubs in Fiji feature multiethnic dance forms that fuse Indian, Fijian, and Chinese dance styles with modern club dance moves.