This dance form is always considered as the national dance of Tonga, Lakalaka dance comes from more ancient dance called the me’elufola. This dance has men standing in circle surrounding a group of singers who also perform with instruments. Lakalaka is a blend of choreography, oratory, vocal polyphony, musical compositions and texts relating to local legends and the History of Tonga. Lakalaka dance has been preserving the heritage and identity of Tonga. Tongans maintained the records of their history through oral communication. Lakalaka dance is one such art form where History is recorded and communicated to the young generation of the Tonga.
It’s a vibrant art form of cultural expression and is practiced by the communities across the country and features mostly at important celebrations such as the coronation of monarch and the anniversaries of the king. The performance lasts for about thirty minutes and may involve about several hundred people.
Participants are generally aligned in rows. Men on the right and women on the left from the audiences view. The dancers are decorated in beautiful garlands and bracelets and a feathered head piece. Wearing the feathered head piece enhances the headmovements which is consideredone of the most importanct actions in lakalaka dance. The moves for the men are rapid and energetic while women perform graceful dance movements with elegant hand gestures. Clapping and singing is done by both men and women as they move and the chorus in the background narrates the folk songs in a synchronized melody. Punakes are the creative force behind the lakalaka dance. Their tasks are to compose the song, choreograph the dance, to be the performance director and write the poems and songs. The synchronized movements of hundreds of dancers coupled with elegant singing offers an impressive audio and visual spectacle.
Lakalaka dance have evolved over the ages and continues to change. It’s a beautiful group activity which needs proper co-ordination and team work.