After nearly two decades of practicing Ori Tahiti (a traditional Tahitian dance) and winning competitions from Stockton to Reno, Sammy Rodrigo is sharing his passion and teaching a new generation of dancers about Tahitian culture at Ura Hau Nui in Stockton.
“The significance that Tahitian dancing has for me is always going to be unexplainable. I make sure to dance from my heart, to share all my knowledge to all my peers, to always dance with a purpose,” Sammy says. “The goal of Ura Hau Nui is to allow all the dancers to learn about the Tahitian culture, to have them become better dancers after every beat, and to make sure they love and gain a passion [for] Tahitian Dance in the most genuine way.”
There are several styles of Ori Tahiti, each capturing the emotions and movement of life and preserving their deep roots in Polynesian culture. At Ura Hau Nui, Sammy focuses primarily on teaching two types of dance: Otea, a fast-moving dance where the pace is set by the rhythm of Tahitian drums, and Aparima, a slower dance usually performed by a group of girls. “When Ura Hau Nui first started [last April], there were only eight dancers and currently we have 135 dancers representing Ura Hau Nui,” Sammy says. “It was an overwhelming feeling seeing how fast the group has grown, but I’m extremely blessed with how many people trust in me to lead them in their journey with Tahitian dance.”
Already the group is being recognized with competition victories and private event bookings. Sammy is excited to see the group continue to grow and invites people to reach out to learn more about classes (ages two and up) and Tahitian traditions.
Ura Hau Nui
Ura Hau Nui signifies the sacred love and peace of Tahitian dance.
There are four main styles of Tahitian Dances: Otea, Aparima, Hivinau, and Pa’o’a.
Tahitian dances focus on telling a story.