Name: Jennifer Burt
A cast of 30 dancers and musicians will carry audiences to the deep pacific as they perform native dances from the islands of Samoa, Tahiti, Hawaii, New Zealand and Tonga in the annual Polynesian Concert sponsored by the Southern Utah University Polynesian Club this March 5 and 6 at 7 p.m. in the Sharwan Smith Center Ballroom.
The SUU Polynesian students have been working hard all year to bring the campus and local communities an authentic glimpse into their varied island cultures and dances.
According to Toanui Tawa, faculty advisor for the SUU Polynesian Club, students from many islands have brought their culture to SUU and shared it with others. “We have a fairly large Polynesian student body on the SUU campus who have family ties to the islands,” said Tawa. “We have been extremely lucky to have students from these islands who can teach these dances.”
The Polynesian Club has been performing on SUU’s campus for over 20 years. The annual concert allows students to share their culture and the unique and distinct differences between each island’s traditions.
The performances, marked by intricate choreography and accentuated by island music and colorful costumes, continue to be a cultural highlight in Cedar City. This year, students hope that in addition to entertaining their audiences, their performances will help break down negative stereotypes about their cultures and people.
According to Tawa, Polynesians consider themselves a warm and generous people who love to share their culture with others. In fact, as they have prepared for this year’s Polynesian Concert, the club has welcomed anyone – regardless of ethnicity – who was interested in participating in the concert, teaching them the dances as well as about the cultures of the different islands.
Tickets to the concert, which is open to the public, can be purchased in the mall of the Sharwan Smith Student Center March 1-5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. or in SUU’s Multicultural Center, also with the student center.
Tickets purchased before the day of the event are $5 for students $7 for general admission. Tickets at the door are $7 for students and $10 for general admission. The club is also offering special family and senior citizen discounts. For additional information, please contact SUU’s Multicultural Center at 435-586-7772.
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