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Malialole Entertainment | This Is Utah

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– You may have watched them perform on a stage in Utah, spreading awareness about Polynesian culture and arts When the music stops, Malialole Entertainment Group is still at work

Finding ways to bring a bit of the Pacific Islands to Utah (drumbeats rolling) – [Man] It is really loud, really live – Music and dance is very spiritual for us as Polynesians and Pacific Islanders And what words can't address, dancing expresses – Sharing our culture and our dance with different people of walks of life, we show we have a common thread of our heart and soul

I'm making a lei, and a lei is usually for a farewell or welcome, as an affection – [Interviewer] Her friends call her Vida, and on this occasion, she's giving us a warm welcome as she opens up about her culture and creative work within the community So are there all kinds of different leis? Cause the ones that we've heard are like the flower – There's flower leis, but it's unlimited You can put leaves in between, you could put flowers in between

You could put a lot of things just to make it whatever you like There's candy leis, those are the best (both laughing) – It would not last long with me (both laughing) Variety within the arts is a common thread in Vida's eclectic family – My mother, she had her and her siblings

They used to perform, they were musicians, dancers I started at between three and four dancing The age of five, kind of understanding, hear the different music, the drum beats, the rhythm (singing in foreign language) – There's no room, there's gonna be no room for shyness in this family – There's no room

– And I say, "You can sing" and you are like, "Yes, get the guitar" (both laughing) – That's how it is That's how I grew up, and now, like I said, it's my children's time – [Interviewer] And her children's children Together they formed the Malialole Entertainment Group

(traditional Polynesian music) An organization that travels around Utah, spreading awareness about Polynesian music, dance, and other cultural arts And Malialole has performed here at the annual Friendly Island Tongan Festival in Salt Lake City for more than a decade Here you can experience the beauty and depth of Pacific Island culture, through music, food, art and much more – Culture is everything It unites an individual

It unites a village Culture is something that we are embedded in our hearts and our soul (drumbeats rolling) – [Havier] So what we are looking for is for their feet to be together Also for their top part, like their shoulders, to be as stationary as possible – [Interviewer] Havier Tuitama Hafoka, who goes by Havi is the unlikely creative director of the group

– It's funny because my aunt, my mom's sister had told me that, one day I will be doing this, when I was younger, and my thing was, oh no! Never this, I'm not gonna be sitting here, screaming at little kids You're not gonna catch me over here doing the hula dancing, and then next minute I'm here, teaching (chuckles) – [Interviewer] Practicing and performing almost daily to strengthen the bond between other Pacific Islanders and also to teach those who, simply don't know about the rich cultural ties that are present here in Utah – [Havier] Breathe, smile Breathe with a secret

So it's like conditioning, like you're conditioning for sports – I loved when you said, "Breathe like it's a secret" (both laughing) – [Havier] There was a sort of etiquette on the stage where you have to look like everything is effortless – You don't want people to know you're struggling – Yeah, people don't want you to be like (deep panting) – Like you're uncomfortable

– Yeah, exactly (both laughing) – [Interviewer] Lessons here, go beyond the basic eight count on the dance floor – Their dance group has always been a haven for anyone that was suffering and was needing anything They always knew that their studio was open – It's an essence from our people that we carry with us, just as Polynesians

It doesn't matter where we are In the United States or across seas, we always carry that same spirit with us, and it's that spirit of mama – [Interviewer] A spirit that the elders strive to pass on to the next generation – There's like little youth in my culture like that's down to like represent our culture and I think that when I'm there, representing our culture in front of large audiences it's important to keep our tradition alive – A lot of our identity, problems that I think our youth have are because of the lack of understanding of who they are

They're way more than a performing arts group – [Interviewer] Malialole also sponsors Talk 2 Me; a program that tackles youth suicide and depression While the groups "Who Got Roots" competition focuses on instilling a strong sense of identity and confidence in young adults – We do what we do here in Salt Lake City, it's because, it's so diverse that everyone is accepting of every culture And when we are accepting of every culture, you understand that there is more similarities than there are differences

I guess you see more things in a beautiful light because you understand who you are So, you get to appreciate more cultures, because you appreciate and understand your own culture – I feel it's like another foundation of knowing where you come from Where you been at in the past, in the present, and in the future And for me, to pass that onto my children, they have taken it to the next level, you know

I'm the old school, and they have taken it to the next level – I feel the connection through music and through dance, and I think that dancing and the music helps invoke that spirit of the islands So although I'm not there or even visited it, I can feel the spirit of my people from music and dance That spirituality helps us to keep pushing and to keep moving And when we see our kids, and we see the youth, that's the big motivation

(ukulele playing)

Source: Youtube

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