The Lonely Planet guidebook for Chile and Easter Island mentions “If there’s one thing you absolutely have to check out while you’re on Easter Island, it’s a traditional dance show” and I agree. The two troupes “Kari Kari” and “Matatoa” both perform many times during the week and provide a wonderful way to round out a day of taking in the sights of Easter Island. Not only is this entertainment for the visitors, but also it is a vessel to educate both visitors as well as young Rapa Nui children about the history and the culture of Easter Island through dances, costumes and body paintings of the Rapa Nui as they pass down from one generation to the next.
Although both the troupes are from Rapa Nui, the sights and sounds are different. Kari Kari over powers the senses with elaborate costumes and the number of musicians and dancers. The show we watched involved a lot of audience participation and was quite enjoyable but my wife and I both felt it to be a little overly commercial and instead preferred Matatoa (we ended up seeing Matatoa twice on different nights and both times the show was excellent). For me the guitar riffs combined with the beautiful singing and polynesian style dancing was not only a great balance, but also I loved the warm interaction of the dancers and the musicians with the audience and enjoyed photographing the show very much.
Our biggest regret about our trip to Rapa Nui has been about not buying the Matatoa CD and DVD after the show (we wanted to keep our luggage at a minimum level as we had just started our round the world trip). Upon returning to Japan we tried very hard but have been unable to find the CD and DVD although we were able to find a few of their songs on youtube. Our favorites include “Tagi Tagi“, “Here ma ‘ohi“, “Hiva“, “Henua“, “A he ra koe“, and one I don’t know the title to. I am sure there are more but these were the only ones we could find 😉 Watching these videos will provide you with a sense of Rapa Nui culture and give a glimpse of what people long for in this remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Lonely Planet was right one more time when they said “you’ll have a lump in your throat the day you leave“. We look forward to going back!