Teoraroa at San Jose Tahiti Fete
By Kilia Purdy-Avelino
Molokai’s only pupu ‘ori, or Tahitian dance halau, Teoraroa Molokai, was represented by a small group of dancers and musicians in their debut on a stage known as the largest Tahiti Fete in the U.S. in San Jose, California on Friday, June 30. Teoraroa Molokai had three soloists, and a spectacular ahuroa on Saturday, July 1. The Molokai group accompanying Kumu Chelsea Lima-Tanaka to San Jose, consisted of seven vahine dancers and four musicians.
With less than a year of dancing together — and for most, their first time learning Tahitian ‘ori (dance — the purpose of their entrance was not foremost for the competition, but a tribute to the late Kalen Isamu Tanaka, father of Chelsea and Kalene Tanaka. The song was composed by Chelsea for her father metaphorically representing the spring as knowledge passed down from generation to generation, such as his (and her mother’s, Moe Salis) knowledge of Tahitian culture that was instilled in her and her sister as children.
Today, the sisters have taken of the waters of this spring, both running the pupu ʻori their parents started — Chelsea on Molokai and Kalene in California — assuring they continue to pass on their parents’ knowledge.
Two recipients of this knowledge, 14-year-olds, Healohamele Terino and Waihala’i Purdy-Avelino, bravely entered the solo competitions with mixed-levels in their age division.
Their experience from their first solo competition has them eager to continue learning more and entering other future competitions. Another soloist was Chelsea’s own daughter, Kaluhea Lima-Tanaka, in the 6 to 10 age division making this three generations. The other vahine dancers that represented Teoraroa Molokai at the Tahiti Fete were Shaye Lauifi, Kelly Kaawa-Richardson, Lau Asuncion, Natalie Luczon and Roxie Sotelo. The musicians were Justin Avelino, Kunani Keanini, Keaka Kaiama and Shaun Withers Lima, husband of Chelsea. Blended with Kalene’s pupu ʻori, there were 28 dancers in total that beautifully graced the stage dancing the originally composed mele, Mehara.
Chelsea and Teoraroa Molokai want to thank all of our families, friends, businesses and community supporters who donated through our fundraising efforts, giving of their time, teaching, hands, items, and/or monetary gifts that helped us to get to San Jose to honor and pay tribute to her father while giving our Molokai dancers and musicians a Tahiti Fete experience. Donations also help with other pupu ‘ori expenses and future opportunities. Mauruuruu Molokai!