Choreographers for the different student associations’ Culture Night performances said their love for dance and culture helped them create the dances, despite not feeling qualified for the task.
Pattica San, a political science freshman from Cambodia, choreographed the dances for the Cambodia Chapter and said, “I’m not sure that I am qualified, but I was willing to represent my culture and share it with others.” San said this was important because “this s the first time in years that Cambodia has been represented in Culture Night, and I wanted to make sure that people knew that Cambodia was in the house.”
Ryo Funajima, a senior music major from Japan, said, “I’ve never had any background in dancing.” He said he gives credit to other members of the committee in charge of the performance. Hikari Asano, a Japanese sophomore majoring in hospitality and tourism management, said, “I studied ballet for nine years and Japanese traditional dances.”
Some of the choreographers have had dance training. Cathrine Kumar, a junior from Malaysia majoring in TESOL Education and choreographer for the Malaysia/Singapore Chapter, said she attended a dance school when she was six years old and was trained in classical traditional Indian dance. “I knew from a young age that I loved dancing,” she said.
Roxane Denis choreographed the dance for Hip-Hop Club. She said, “I have been dancing since I could walk.” She trained in a studio since before she was 12 and learned ballet, jazz, tap, and contemporary dance.
For the dance, Denis said, “I watched YouTube videos and I immediately loved what I saw… even though it was hard to go from classical to hip-hop, I continued to teach myself in hip-hop.”
Kelly Hansol Lee, a junior from South Korea majoring in piano performance, said, “I am not an expert on dancing at all, so I needed to learn from Gahee, who is a professional dancer.” Hansoi asked to help out because “After Culture Night last year, I did some performances for the chapter activities with other girls, and then the chapter president asked me if I could help this year's Culture Night.”
Local community member Jackson Vasaga Tilo choreographed for both the Hip-Hop Club and the Korean slow K-Pop number. Tilo said, “I come from a long line of entertainers. My grandfather, Tafili Glaeai and his brother Pulefano Galeai would travel all over America singing and dancing, sharing our culture and customs to everyone throughout their tour. They also brought fireknife dancing to Hawaii. So from a very young age, I was already dancing and singing to tunes of Samoan songs to modern day pop.”
A few choreographers said they used specific dances and moves that have cultural meanings. Hone Bailey, a local community member from Laie, choreographed the New Zealand performance. “My background in general is none.” Hone has worked for 7 years in the Maori village at PCC, but before that he had experience in kapahaka (Maori performing arts) from attending Maori immersion schools. “I attribute my passion for the kapahaka to my early childhood and being taught not only how to dance, but why it is important.”
One of the choreographers of the Samoan Chapter’s dance, Taia Poufa Malaeulu, a junior majoring in computer science, said, “Cultural dances have their own meanings, like the boys’ slap is not from slapping the mosquito. What my father told me is when the men have finished their tattoo, most of the time its always itchy and you can't scratch it, and so the only way to get rid of the itch is by slapping it, and that’s the origin of the slap from the tattoo (tatau).
“Then the taualuga concludes every performance in the Samoan culture. The word taualuga refers to the very top part of the house roof. The taualuga is the very last part of the house to be placed, after that then it’s finished. That’s why the taualuga is the last dance for every performance.”
In regards to inspiration, most of the choreographers attributed it to their love for the culture. Rei Takahashi, a junior from Japan majoring in social work, said, “I think simply the love towards my own culture and many experiences that I had back in home influenced me to have some inspirations as I think of the movements and motions with others for the Culture Night.”