Ura (dance)

Ura is one of the popular traditional dances of the Cook Islands, a Maori sacred ritual usually performed by a female who moves her body to tell a story, accompanied by intense drumming by at least five drummers. Moving the hips, legs and hands give off different gestures to the audience to tell a tale, typically related to the natural landscape such as the ocean and birds and flowers, but also feelings of love and sadness.[1] The ura dance has three distinct components; the ura pa'u (drum dances), korero (legends) and kaparima (action songs).[2] To perform the ura, women typically wear a pareu and a kikau (grass) skirt, with flowers and shell headbands and necklaces known as ei.[2] Men during the dance are said to "vigorously flap their knees in a semi-crouched position while holding their upper bodies steady", and they typically wear kikau skirts and headbands.[2] The drumming group, an integral part of the Ura, typically consists of a lead drummer (pate taki), support lead (pate takirua), a double player (tokere or pate akaoro) playing wooden gongs, and two other players playing skin drums (pa'u and mango).[1] The finest performances of the Ura are put on in Rarotonga.[3]

A sexually charged variant of the ura dance is known at the ura piani in which both men and women are involved in telling the story.[2] Other variations include the ura rore (stilt dance), ura tairiri (fan dance), ura korare (spear dance), and ura rama (torch dance).[2]


  1. ^ a b "Dancing & drumming". Enjoycookislands.com. Archived from the original on 10 May 2014. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e Sissons 1999, p. 44.
  3. ^ Stanley 1999, p. 312.