The applause was raucous, growing louder and faster as the beat accelerated.
A dozen dancers, arms stretched, torsos bare, pounded the stage in an increasing frenzy. They turned, swooped, slapped their thighs, swooped and turned again– birds hovering in the air, looking for something below – and shouting, “koburake!” or “rise up!” The audience exploded after each verse, thinking the performance over.
But the dance started up again, faster still.
The dancers had traveled more than 7,000 miles to perform for the crowd at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater. They were singing of the frigate bird – an agile flier with a seven-foot wingspan that forages across the open ocean, returning to land only to roost or breed.
The performers on stage were part of a troupe of three dozen islanders from Kiribati and two other Pacific atolls, Tokelau and Tuvalu, touring the East and West coasts this fall.