Limbo? Death? Purgatory?
Until the end of the movie I had been figuring that this was all a representation of a sort of limbo or half-life after death for these girls. They just sort of arrive there (in coffins) not seeming to know how they got there or exactly what they are there for. No one, not even parents, ever visits them.
They seem to have pointless existences, not even schooling, only sometimes studying dance. Once they start to get older they are taken to a darker place where they end up dancing for an unseen audience.
There is fear about being stuck there forever. An occasional girl rejects the existence and either "dies" or simply "goes away."
Unless the end is interpreted as "heaven", though, it doesn't seem to fit. There are probably a lot of people who don't want to think sexual attraction exists in heaven, though. That was obviously going on with the boy and girl at the end.
Did anyone else see this as being about a kind of life after death?
"My name is Paikea Apirana, and I come from a long line of chiefs stretching all the way back to the Whale Rider."