Moana, as a musical, as a character and as an idea, is from Samoa. The role of the Samoan character is played out by another character we have in the film, the Polynesian.
As well as this, the Polynesian has a relationship to another character who is playing a more major role than either character. These people are called “dancing Polynesian women”, or “dancing Polynesian men” as it is known in the film.
These characters, as you can probably tell, are portrayed as being very glamorous, and often dressed for the occasion in a variety of ways.
This is what we mean by the fact that the dance is called a dancing Polynesian dance. This is also, incidentally, what we mean by Moana having a Samoan background.
Moa’s mother is named Tana-Ake, and is referred to as Dala-Mona in the film. She is also called Tahmai in the film.
The dancing Polynesian women are also called, often, in the film, “dancing women”.
This is interesting because in actual fact “dancing Polynesian women” are not very common nowadays. It is only used in the media these days where the Polynesian is a character, usually as a dance partner or a dancer. As we saw with the dancing Polynesian women, this is not often seen for reasons that we can now understand.
Do you have any reaction to the name “Polynesian” in the movie? Does it mean anything to you?
I think Polynesian is a wonderful name for Moana. It’s what I’d want someone to use if they were to make up a movie about someone from this culture living on the Galapagos. The name is so perfect, perfect! It is one of those names that I think comes from an old Polynesian proverb that says “The name of a Polynesian island is like the stars above”.
Did any Samoan influence the film’s music in anyway?
Not really. That is not my intention. I tried to include the Samoa song “Whare Aha, Whare Aha” in the film. I don’t think it was a huge influence on the film overall, but when you look closely, there are some references to it in the film. It is one of those Samoans songs where you almost can’t
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