KIRIBATI MWAIE (DANCING) is an art form - it is unique, haunting and beautiful. It contains elements of chorus, dance, ballet and lyric drama which are done to a rhythm beaten out on a box or a tin plate. The mwaie reflects the way that the Kiribati people look at life. The singers sing and clap with all their might to make the dancing more exciting. The dancers and their concentration on movement - a time for the hands or feet to move, the position of the eyes, a time to smile and a time to look grave and serious - all of this may symbolise that amidst life's difficulties, anxieties and turmoil, life still goes on and there is always a time for everything.
The mwaie consumes the dancers and the singers who sometimes break down during and at the end of a performance due to the emotional intensity of the songs and their meanings which are often songs of love or songs that had been passed down over many generations.
Please enjoy the following images of our Kiribati mwaie!
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote of Kiribati mwaie (ruoia) that was performed on one of the northern Gilbert Islands (Butaritari): "Of all they call dance in the Pacific, the performance I saw on Butaritari was easily the best...Gilbertese dance appeals to the soul: it makes one thrill with emotion, it uplifts one, it conquers one: it has the essence of all great art: an immediate and far from exhausted appeal".