Thesis

Clothing the un-clothed: the evolution of dance costume in Tahiti and Rarotonga

There are two parts to this thesis. The first part consists of the writing section which was research done for a live performance, while the other part consists of a performance based on the subject of the paper, which includes a documentary video of the performance on DVD along with photographs. The thesis traces the evolution of dance costumes of Tahiti located in French Polynesia, Rarotonga located in the Cook Islands and the evolution of costumes and clothing due to Protestant Christian missionary influence from 1797-1823, specifically by the LMS (London Missionary Society), and later the revival due to tourism and globalization.There are four parts to the paper. Chapter 1: Ancient Society covers ancient societal beliefs and practices pertaining to the performance of costumed dancers and the hierarchical influences in costumes and adornment along with material culture. Chapter 2: Missionary Influence and Change discusses banning and minimization of dance costumes and clothing by missionaries. Chapter 3: Cultural Revival and Transformation of Dance Costumes is about the revival and transformation of costumes and expressive culture due to tourism. Chapter 4 speaks about how Tahitian and Rarotongan dance costumes have been affected by globalization. The changes that have affected the cultures can be witnessed in contemporary costumes through creative innovation and adaptations, while still holding on to traditional ancestral roots and indigenous knowledge.

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