Thursday, June 5, 2014

Eo Himene – a Marquesan Music Festival – by Vicki

Musical talent abounds in these islands and over two recent evenings we were treated to a fabulous concert featuring a diverse range of styles mostly sung in French and Marquesan with the occasional English and Russian song. This was definitely not a show for the tourists, but a celebration of the musical life of the Marquesas, performed for the benefit of Marquesans.  The event is free and well attended by a wide cross-section of the local population.

The Traditional Program
The festival began with a show of traditional Marquesan singing and dance. It was a feast for the senses and they were dressed to impress. As the darkness deepened the centre of the tohua was cleared. Shadows moved to edge of the arena’s lights and then strode purposefully in singing and beating short sticks in time with the drums. What followed was an energetic and athletic display.

Body art, head feathers, and necklaces of boar tusks adorned the men.

Strong back-lighting gave the performance a mystical, warriors around the ‘campfire’ feel.

Stomping and aggressive arm movements typified the men’s dancing.

As the show progressed the drummers enter a zone of their own.

The women’s performance, while much less aggressive, was joyful and energetic. First they sat in formation on the ground singing in crescendos accompanied by thigh slapping and circular arm movements. Then three young women adorned with feathers joined them dancing in a more gentle style, and reminiscent of Western ballet, dancing on tiptoe.

Head wreaths, necklaces and skirts made from local vegetation adorned the women.

Short tiptoe steps and smooth, graceful arm movements typified their dancing.

The Modern Music Program
After a short intermission the modern musical program begins. Modern instruments appear between the giant tikis each side of a stage. This is a modern high tech operation; sound and light technicians go through their checks...and then it is on with the show.

Marquesan crooners, 80s and 90s rock, hip-hop, hard rock, reggae, digital music and more. The musicians come from all walks of life and their love of music shines through.

People in the crowd.

Modern musicians dressed in casual black are accompanied by a woman dancing in a modern Marquesan style.

Zeke’s Spanish teacher wearing a different hat.

A group of popular Taiohae musicians. The electric ukulele caught our attention

Max, a long-stay yachtie, and an amazing musician was in his element.

Mum and daughter enjoying the show.

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