Dancing Spirit, Love, and War


Studies In Dance History 2019

Author: Evadne Kelly

“Evadne Kelly’s research into meke explores shifting identities of Fijians through time and space. A gift of loloma (love) for the Fijian people, this landmark study is layered, self-reflective, and ultimately a rare gem of scholarship that integrates intellectual and emotional intelligence. My life has been enriched because I read it.”
—Vilsoni Hereniko, University of Hawai’i

Meke, a traditional rhythmic dance accompanied by singing, signifies an important piece of identity for Fijians. Despite its complicated history of colonialism, racism, censorship, and religious conflict, meke remained a vital part of artistic expression and culture. Evadne Kelly performs close readings of the dance in relation to an evolving landscape, following the postcolonial reclamation that provided dancers with political agency and a strong sense of community that connected and fractured Fijians worldwide.

Through extensive archival and ethnographic fieldwork in both Fiji and Canada, Kelly offers key insights into an underrepresented dance form, region, and culture. Her perceptive analysis of meke will be of interest in dance studies, postcolonial and Indigenous studies, anthropology and performance ethnography, and Pacific Island studies

Evadne Kelly is an independent artist-scholar. Her research focuses on the political and social dimensions of dance traditions and her publications appear in Pacific Arts JournalThe Dance CurrentPerformance Matters, and Fiji Times.