Elk Ridge eighth grader Sisi Kaili was one of several members of the People of the Pacific who performed a Samoan dance to highlight her culture in front of her peers at the school’s third annual Cultural Showcase.
“It was a cool experience to get in touch with my culture, and it gives students an understanding and feeling of my culture, not just the stereotype they may think of,” Sisi said.
The People of the Pacific female students practiced the dance, “Silasila I la Matou Siva,” for 45 minutes every week leading up to the May 14 performances. They performed three times, once for each grade in the school auditorium.
“My friend (Sariah Frost) taught it to us. I really enjoy dancing. When I was younger, I’d dance at weddings and get-togethers,” Sisi said.
Her adviser, Ruth Bradford, coordinated the school event.
“We have all these cultures in our school, so we thought it would be good to show them so students can value each culture,” she said. “Sometimes groups stick to themselves, but if we can understand and be inclusive, all students benefit.”
The assembly began with seven students presenting a Philippino dance, called “Tinikling,” where students slide and tap bamboo poles together. Dancers performed the Leyte Island dance by stepping over and between the poles, which depicts the flight of the tikling bird as it travels through the rice fields avoiding bamboo traps.
Elk Ridge ballroom dance students performed a costumed Viennese waltz during the school’s Cultural Showcase. Photo courtesy of Ruth Bradford
The school’s 16-member ballroom dance team performed a Viennese waltz to the music, “Just a Fool.” The students dressed as nerds, jocks and other stereotypical roles in an effort to show that even though students may appear different, “inside we all have the same needs and experience similar heartaches and joys through our lives,” adviser Megan Rees said.
Elk Ridge’s Latino group took to the stage for two dances. First, they danced a Bachata number originating from the Dominican Republic, and for the second, the students performed a series of acrobatic sequences to the Mexican tribal song, “Quiero Bailar.”
The final dance was showcased by the People of the Pacific male members who performed a variation of a war “Haka” from New Zealand.
“The show is growing and getting bigger and we open it to all students. Previously, we had some students perform on guitar and ukulele and sing. We want to showcase everyone’s culture. Elk Ridge is proud of its students and the unique culture and heritage each one brings to the school,” Bradford said.