The Southern Utah University Polynesian Club presented their showcase “Rise Up, Protectors of Our Land,” from March 5-7 at 6 p.m. Held in the SUU auditorium, this event hosted the same unforgettable show each night.
On March 7, the line to purchase tickets stretched through the doors and far back onto the sidewalk outside. All levels of the auditorium were filled, but those that couldn’t find a seat weren’t deterred. Standing in the back, audience members were eager and happy to attend.
The SUU Polynesian Club “is dedicated to sharing our Polynesian heritage, pursuing our education and helping to bridge the gap between ourselves and others,” according to @SUU_PolyClub on Twitter.
By performing dances that represented each island, it was as if those in attendance weren’t just watching a performance, but that they were teleported to the islands themselves.
The showcase was the perfect way to share the cultures of Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand (Maori), Tahiti, Hawaii and Samoa.
The cheering, shouting, stomping, clapping and singing filled the auditorium in such a way that audience member’s mouths dropped open as others around them rose to their feet, shouting their support loudly and running to the stage to throw money.
Shak Gaisoa is a senior majoring in criminal justice and political science. Although he has helped with the event for three years, this was his first time performing
“It meant the world to me to be able to perform with all my friends, and to be able to represent my culture and also teach [others about my culture]. We are such a diverse club, but it is great to not only learn about your own culture, but to teach it to others,” Gaisoa said.
Before each of the dances, a short video clip was shown to give background information and introduce the island. Following the video, club members filled the stage in colorful traditional clothing unique to their island’s culture.
There were different teachers (or Kumus) for every section. Mona Afoa (Fiji), Tre Bailey (Tonga), Toa Tawa (Maori), Dante Togisala (Tahiti), Anu Tufuga (Hawaii), and Tara Atisanoe and Ise Talamoni (Samoa) all choreographed the dances for their sections.
Noa Taeatafa, a junior at SUU majoring in Family Life and Human Development also participated in several sections of the showcase, performing to represent Maori, Hawaii, Tahiti and Samoa.
“It is my culture. It is important to me because I love my culture and where I am from. I want to share it with everyone. It’s important because it teaches [the audience] a lot while following the islands of Polynesia,” Taeafatafa said.
Although the showcase was unique to the Polynesian cultures, the event brought unity and passion to SUU’s campus.
The atmosphere felt in that auditorium was unforgettable, and those that watched were lucky to experience the culture that the Polynesian Club shared.
For more information on SUU’s Polynesian Club, click here.
Story by: Elizabeth Armstrong
Photos by: Mitchell Quartz