Learning identity through dance

By Vatapuia Maiava ,

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HAPPY TO BE IN SAMOA: The ladies of the Nesian Pearl dance group.

HAPPY TO BE IN SAMOA: The ladies of the Nesian Pearl dance group. (Photo: Vatapuia Maiava)

The enthusiasm and passion seen in overseas-based Samoans when doing their traditional dances, is something to be marveled at.

Noticeable throughout the Teuila Festival, our overseas Samoan dance groups tend to have it all. 

Sharp dance moves, in-tune coordination and just a beam of pride emanating from every member.

The Nesian Pearl dance group from Melbourne, Australia is a perfect example of that.

Together for just two years, they have traveled to their homeland for the first time to show the Teuila goers what they are made off.

But what drives such a proud dance group?

“We came here because we are passionate about Siva Samoa as well as contemporary style,” Group leader, Malesete Vaasili told the Samoa Observer.

“Being in Australia, we are not exposed to our culture as much and being here is just an honour for us.

“It’s a blessing to get to know our heritage and also to find out more about ourselves. Apart from our strong points dancing Siva Samoa, we need to learn more about our language and traditions.

“It may be just a Siva Samoa for some but it means more to us.  Coming here expresses a lot; we are overwhelmed at being in the country. We are very grateful for the opportunity.”

Although their talents extend to other cultural dances such as Hawaiian, Tahitian, Rarotongan and  Tongan; Melesete says that their primary focus is learning their own culture through the Siva Samoa.

PROUD OF THEIR HERITAGE: Nesian Pearl group leader, Malesete Vaasili.
PROUD OF THEIR HERITAGE: Nesian Pearl group leader, Malesete Vaasili.

“My two sisters and I learnt that we needed to know more about our own culture before moving to other cultures,” she said.

“There is so much more to Samoa than one would think. We have also added contemporary transitions to our dance.

“We have so much to learn and it has been so much fun so far. So far we are just getting to know our villages, where we’re from, our relatives and we are just absorbing the atmosphere and observing everything.”

The excitement from the opportunity to return to Samoa overwhelmed the girls even before they boarded to plane.

“The whole group was overly excited when they found out we were coming to Samoa,” Melesete said.

“Words can’t explain how much we looked forward to this opportunity. We are just grateful and happy to be able to see our families again because most of us were born in New Zealand.

“Coming back to see where our parents come from, has been humbling for us all.

“We fundraised to make this trip possible. We did Bingo, food stalls, and bonuses to make this happen. There were many challenges with the fundraiser because we’re just a normal dance group but we learnt a lot from that experience.”

Melesete and the girls of the Nesian Pearl are simply grateful to Samoa for the opportunity presented to them.

“Thank you Samoa for having us here to perform for Teuila,” she said.

“It has been overwhelming for our group and we are grateful for the opportunity.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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