SUVA, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Indigenous Samoan cultural identity expressed through dance is in danger of losing its identity due to the lack of commitment and pride by younger practitioners.
According to the Samoan Observor, the largest newspaper in Samoa on Wednesday, Gagaeolo Palepua Manu Aoete Apelu, a founding member of the original Samoa Teacher's Cultural Group expressed these views to the Samoan Observor.
"Our traditional Samoan dances were an identity for us as we promoted our culture in the first Pacific Festival of Arts held in Fiji in 1972. It saddens me to witness the rapid alterations that are evident nowadays, from traditional costumes to the style of dances there are so many additional changes," Apelu said.
Apelu said that during his time, there was uniformity in the traditional dance patterns and they won awards for their performances.
"The Samoa Teachers' Cultural Group is really iconic in terms of performances, they stand out. And I just want to encourage them to be consistent. Speaking from experience, I used to take youth groups from our village to Teuila festivals and we won for five years in a row with our traditional Samoan dance,"Apelu said.
Expressing concern at the absence of originality in the traditional performances today, Apelu said it was important that Samoans maintained their culture in order to preserve its origins.
"My advice is to encourage the sustainability of our culture, maintain it so it would not be lost. For those that perform our traditional dances, you need to commit. You are not only just dancing for the sake of dancing, that is your culture, your identity and birthright as a proud Samoan, so carry it with pride," he added.
According to history, Samoa was settled around 3,000 years ago by seafarers from southwest Asia.
Samoan islanders are deeply spiritual and attach great meaning to family and tradition. Dance is handed down through generations -- the distinctive solo and group dances are popular tourist attractions in Samoa and in other Pacific Island vacation destinations.
Traditional dances of Samoa can be found throughout the world, both in native villages and in modern performance venues.
Siva is the Samoa word for "dance" and siva is also a name given to a variety of dances, some of them hybrids of old and new culture. The classic dances that have survived more or less in their original form, tell familiar tales to an indigenous audience and are a spectacle of insistent rhythm and colorful costumes to visitors.