PCC Alumni Show: Bittersweet performance glitters like gold

Written by: 
Tucker Grimshaw & Keryna Monson~Journalists

Former night show dancers gathered together to share their love for the Polynesian Cultural Center and one another in the Golden and Silver alumni shows on Sept. 6 at the Pacific Theater. Since the opening of the Captain Cook Theater in 1963, the various night shows have entertained and shared the culture of the islands with millions of people worldwide.

Benny Kai from Kahuku, an ambassador for the Hawaiian Luau and employee since 1970, said, “No words can describe the spirit” that was found in the Pacific Theater. This past June, Kai was diagnosed with cancer and said he scheduled everything around the PCC anniversary. According to him, “Even cancer would not keep me away.”

Alumni performers have started rehearsing in the late hours on Tuesday night to perfect their performances and to make sure they portray the true night show spirit, said the performers. Sina Hanohano, a returning alumni who came back to dance in the night show, said, “Working here has changed my life by allowing me to learn the songs and dance of my culture. [It] has allowed me to develop and share my talents with people from all over the world.” Hanohano last worked for the center 10 years ago. She was there to celebrate both her 10-year reunion and the 50th anniversary.

Since working for the center, Hanohano said she has moved over to the Big Island and has been inspired to work on starting up a group over on the Big Island to perform.

Another PCC alumnus William Numanga from the Cook Islands, also recounted how PCC has helped him throughout the years. “Working at the Polynesian Cultural Center has allowed me to finish off school debt free, and I’ve made lifelong friends. I used to be very shy before working at the center but this place allowed me to open up and become more of a people person,” he said. Numanga last worked for the Polynesian Cultural Center in 1999.

Since working at PCC, Numanga said he has been able to acquire skills that have helped him greatly in both his personal life and professional life. He is now working as a career development manager at the BYUH Career and Alumni Services.

Delsa Moe, the cultural presentation director at the PCC, said, the silver show included performers from, “This is
Polynesia,” “Mana,” and “Horizons,” while the golden show included performers from all other night shows. According to the PCC 50 website, the golden years included dancers and musicians from the years 1963 to 1987. The silver years included alumni from 1988 to the present.

Tetuanui Graham, a Hawaiian-Tahitian and a BYUH alumnus, said, “The ambiance was exciting and there was a lot of emotions of love and friendship.” Harvey Kim, a BYUH alumnus remarked, “It’s absolutely magical.”

Former dancers pondered the prophetic words of President David O. McKay as they thought of the millions of lives the PCC has touched. “We are so isolated, but we can affect the world,” said Graham, who danced in the silver night show. She said, “I wish I could have danced in the gold show because my mom is in it.” Three generations of Graham’s family danced in the night show.

The reunions found at the PCC 50 were numerous. “Some dancers danced when they were single, and now they are back with families,” remarked Kai.

Kalo Mataele-Soukop, a member of the PCC board of directors for 21 years, went to school at the Church College of Hawaii, now called BYU-Hawaii, and has been in Hawaii since 1957. Soukop danced in the golden show, in the Tongan section, and said this of her experience, “We were told from our prophet, that not 100, not 1,000, but millions of people would visit the PCC.” She said that prophecy has come true. Soukop said, “I dedicate my life to the church, BYUH, PCC, and my parents because these things have given me everything.”