Friday, 22/9/2017 | : : UTC-5
Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Annual Festival Celebrates Island Life

Annual Festival Celebrates Island Life

Sara Escobar

Evening Star

The Killeen Community Center Amphitheater transformed into a tropical islander’s paradise last Friday, September 9. Siva Ori Polynesia, a local dance group passionate about its Pacific Islander roots, hosted its second annual SOPoly Festival, where Islanders from Killeen and surrounding areas celebrated food, art, crafts and cultural entertainment with the community. The free and family-friendly event took place from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. and had activities for people of all ages.
Siva Ori Polynesia was founded by Lauren Ah Sang in 2016. Ah Sang strongly emphasized the importance if Island culture. “This festival is a unique opportunity to bring our cultures from the South Pacific, like Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, Guam and so many others. Through this event, everyone can share this wonderful experience.” Ah Sang went on to say a record crowd estimated at more than 2,000 people enjoyed the spirit of the festival.
The festival included a fire show at dusk, as well as multiple dance groups performing for festival-goers. A total of 13 groups performed dances in colorful Island costumes at the outdoor amphitheater. It was the biggest fire collaboration Killeen has seen, in part with the dancing groups, all coming together to promote unity and passion for the fire dance. The Fire Dancers of Central Texas All Stars, IFG and Siva Ori Polynesia partook in the show-stopping fire dance. A special Island Princess was also available to meet and dance with for the children, also called keiki, by some Pacific Islanders.
This year the event was special not only due to the new and exciting dance groups introducing themselves to Central Texas, but also because of a raffle that was held to raise money to aid the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The raffle ran for $1 for one ticket and $5 for six tickets and so forth; the drawing was held at dusk, before the dancing exhibition. “This festival was created for the soul purpose of bringing unity within the Polynesian and Micronesian dance community and to bring our community together,” said Ah Sang, “We should support one another. We should help one another.  We are not performers, we are not entertainers. We are Educators. In the words of a fellow leader, If the Pacific islands were to be gone tomorrow, we are what’s left to perpetuate and spread the island culture.”
Siva Ori Polynesia’s primary goal is to ensure that whether audience or dancer, anyone can experience the beauty and excitement of the Islands of Hawaii, Samoa, and Tahiti, and the exhilaration of Fire Dance. The group is currently taking members of all ages. Siva Ori Polynesia invites all citizens to learn to dance the dances of Hawaii, Samoa and Tahiti, take in and fall in love with the culture; gain grace, dedication, confidence, discipline and respect. For more information call 254 458 8976.

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