The Dances of Samoa

This exclusive web extra features a performance by the group Samoa Matalasi. In this interview with Tina Wahinepio, the group's director, she explains the meaning behind the sasa and taualunga dances performed here.

Can you describe the dances are you going to perform tonight?

Tina Wahinepio: Tonight we're going to be bringing young women and young gentlemen to do the sasa, a song used to bring excitement to any festivity. We use a pake, which is a drum accompanied by a snare drum and a bass drum to bring more sound to it. The intricacy is in the hand motions and in the way that they do their claps as well.

What story are you telling with the sasa?

Today's story that we're going to be doing with the sasa is that we're bringing youth into the culture. The youth is actually going to carry on today's culture and move it forward. We're going to do hand motions that are some of the old movements and we've asked the kids to bring in some of their modern movements so you can see how the two relate.

Samoa Matalasi performing at the 4th Pacific Islander Festival in 2011.

Let's talk about the taualunga.

The last performance that we're going to have tonight is the taualunga, which is a very traditional dance which was done by the high chief's daughter. She would come out and she would do the taualuga. It ends every festivity. She comes out with a costume which is very distinct from the other costumes that are going to be worn. Her costume is called ofu kounga, which is her dress. On her head she will have her ko ina, and that's made with feathers. And you'll see that she has hair on there on the head piece, because everything is one piece out there. You'll also see that she has makeup on her face. The makeup is from back in the olden days and we try to carry that tradition.

Click here to see the entire show!

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