Southern Utah University’s newly renamed Pacific Islander Student Association presented their showcase “Rooted in Resilience” from March 17-19. The event highlighted dances and music from six regions including Fiji, Tonga, Aotearoa (known also as New Zealand), Tahiti, Hawai’i and Samoa.
Each section of the showcase opened with a short informational video about each island’s culture as well as some of the most prevalent issues that area is facing today. Dancers then took to the stage to perform some of their culture’s most traditional dances.
“The dancers have been practicing six days a week since the beginning of spring semester,” said Anu Tufuga, the coordinator of student connection and completion and PISA advisor. She explained that hundreds of hours of work go into making the showcase a truly remarkable event.
“Last year, we couldn’t have a showcase because of COVID so this year is extra special,” said senior dancer Suria Savusa. “It’s also pretty bittersweet because it’s my last showcase and I’m definitely going to miss it.”
The showcase is PISA’s main event each year and is the highlight of the spring semester for Polynesian and Pacific Islander students at SUU. For SUU students who moved to Cedar City from the islands, PISA is their second home.
“This club is a family,” Hawai’i dancer Austin Ewing said. “It’s so much fun each time we perform because there’s so much love that comes with it. All of us together onstage, that’s a lot of love.”
As they walked into the SUU Auditorium, attendees were handed programs that detailed each dance and its cultural significance. Each section performed four or five songs and the audience cheered and even threw dollar bills on stage during their favorite dances. At the end of the night, the over 40 dancers crowded the stage for one final bow.
“Coming together and sharing our Pacific Islander cultures with the university and Cedar City community is important for us,” said Tufuga. “But more than anything, it’s about bringing everyone together because we’re a family.”
Article by: Aspen English
Photos by: McKayla Olsen