Story by Elpidio Estioko and photos by May V. Estioko
SAN JOSE – After months of practice and sacrifices, the hula group (halau) of Santa Clara, California (Te Mau Tamari’i A Tiare) garnered the second place in costumes during the just concluded Tahiti Fete 2017 held at the Event Center, San Jose State University last July 2.
The group was propelled by siblings Rose Anne Joy “Tweety” and Paul Joseph Estioko with cousin Jane Estioko and her daughter Mikayla. Paul was interviewed after the competition to check on their preparations and the authensity of their costumes. They were the second group to perform in the jam-packed Event Center of San Jose State University. Starting with the drumming, which is a unique feature of Polynesian culture, the group started with child performances followed by group presentation of regular members of the halau artistically performed by male and female members.
“It paid off! Our efforts and months of preparing our costumes catapulted us to second place among a total of more than 21 halaus,” said Tweety and Paul who sacrificed days braiding their members’ hair and preparing their costumes.
Performers of the 3-day completion came from various parts of California and as far as Hilo, Hawaii. The board of judges is composed of esteemed gurus and internationally known Tahitian dancers, drummers and instrument makers.
Tahiti Fete San Jose is considered the largest Tahitian dance competition in the United States. It spotlights the tradition of Tahitian dance and dancers who come from all over the world to compete with exquisite costumes, demonstrating traditional and contemporary choreography while showcasing the rich history and tales of the Polynesian people. Food vendors outside the event center sold traditional Polynesian treats and exquisite Polynesian crafts.