Night inspired by Pacific Islands

Chloe Guillot

Passion and dedication evident at PICCA

Deanna Tuialetufuga represents the Samoan Village’s chief daughter, called the “Taupou”. Ben Hansen | The Falcon

It was a night of creativity, culture and celebration; the end result of frequent rehearsals and rigorous preparation.

Through song and dance, “The Heart of the Pacific” showcase highlighted the beauty of the islands of the pacific.

On April 14, the Pacific Islander Club of Cultural Affairs (PICCA) presented their cultural showcase — an event that gave the audience a taste of the Pacific Islands as they were transported to across the ocean through various cultural songs and dancers.

In every performance, the dedication that the performers had put into the show was evident.

The showcase was a culmination of hard work and devotion, and those feelings overflowed into the crowd.

Ethan Meyer, Freshman, is lifted into the air. Ben Hansen | The Falcon

“They were just so passionate,” said sophomore Kiana Kahusi, who attended the showcase.

“They talked about going from the heart, and they really did that in everything that they did.”

The showcase took the audience, totaling around 380 people, through a tour of five regions of the Pacific Islands, guided by two hosts who shared cultural facts about the regions between performances.

The showcase highlighted songs and dances from Māori, Chamorro, Sāmoan and Hawaiian culture.

Josh Erme performs motions that will lead the others to participate in a floor routine dance. He is dressed as a Fa’aluma of Samoan culture. Ben Hansen | The Falcon

The beauty of the showcase came not only from these performances themselves, but also from the commitment that every dancer and singer showed.

Having spent countless afternoons and nights practicing in residence halls and buildings around campus, the performers were excited to see their hard work finally pay off in front of an audience.

For sophomore Aseda Bekoe-Absakyi, who sang in the showcase, seeing this progress from the first practices to the final showcase was worth the hard work put in.

From her position on the side of the stage, Bekoe-Absakyi was able to watch the show unfold.

“I had seen it all come together, so for me I was really proud of what they were putting on,” Bekoe-Absakyi said.

Men dance the Fa’ataupati, known as a slap dance in Samoan Culture. Ben Hansen | The Falcon

“In practice it’s always a certain way, and in performance it’s always different because the audience is there.”

For Bekoe-Absakyi and the other singers, practices happened every other day as the small group got together to go over songs, carefully rehearsing their pronunciations.

First-year Ethan Meyer, who danced in the showcase, said that after coming back from spring break, the dancers spent two and a half hours a day working on their moves.

After these countless hours of practicing in front of one another, Meyer also felt the difference of being in front of an audience, as the dancers were able to feed off the of the crowd’s reactions.

The Haka is performed during the Maori dance, which means “Ignite the breath of Life”. Ben Hansen | The Falcon

“I think we really all felt energy tonight and went along and did a really great job of doing what we needed to do,” Meyer said.

One of the highlights of the night that encapsulated this energy was the haka, a ceremonial dance in Māori culture that includes rhythmic shouts and stamping feet.
Sophomore Jamie Lee said that the haka was her favorite part of the night, explaining that nothing could beat the energy that radiated from the stage during that performance.

Lee also felt that same energy and dedication throughout the night, and the obvious work put into the showcase allowed the audience to feel the significance of every performance.

“There was a lot of intention, energy and investment that went into this whole production,” Lee said.

Performers are dancing and signging the Maori Waiata-a-Ringa action song choreographed with hand actions and body movements. The actions depict the meaning of the song, which is used to tell stories, greet and welcome guests, preserve history, commemorate important events, pay tribute to those that have passed on, or any number of topics and emotions. Ben Hansen | The Falcon

“The dances were all super emotional, so I definitely felt that.”

As the dancers ended their performance, they proudly displayed the flags of the cultures they had represented, holding hands and singing a final song in unison as the lights came on.

The Maori culture consists of dancers of all genders. Ben Hansen | The Falcon

In this final tribute the richness of the Pacific Islands, the performers shared the spotlight one last time as they were able to see the weeks of practices, preparation and passion end in a roaring round of applause.

These final moments, according to Kahusi, were beautiful.

“I really loved it, and it almost brought tears to my eyes when they finished cause it was so good,” Kahusi said.

This week’s podcast also features the PICCA event, including an interview with Kayla Furtado.