Saltwater feet: the ow of dance in Oceania
In this chapter I explore some of the ways in which dance practices and events embody and make visible relations between Paci c peoples, their histories and environments, and the vast body of water that constitutes Oceania. e Paci c Ocean is the largest, deepest and oldest body of water on the planet. It contains around 25,000 islands, and covers one third of the surface of the earth. Despite the region’s magnitude, for decades the islands and their inhabitants have been approached and described by countless explorers, scholars, literary critics, artists, travel writers, colonial o cials and contemporary policy-makers as small, remote, primitive, dependent and vulnerable.1 Like the forest for the trees, the ocean is missed for the islands. And yet, the vastness of this region and the manner in which the ancestors of Paci c Islanders successfully explored and settled Oceania over thousands of years contradicts the persistent, terrestrially centric view. Today, many islanders constitute some of the few indigenous communities le on the planet who have autonomy over their lands.