“They told me to get a real job”

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Talents and gifts come in different ways and forms. 

For some it’s intellectual, for others it comes through athletic prowess and sports and then there are those who can dance. 

One of the best success stories from last week is a group of young Samoan dancers who travelled to New Zealand, danced and conquered a competition there.

In doing so, they secured their ticket to the Hip Hop World Championships in Arizona, United States where soon they will be rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s best dancers. Amazing achievement. 

For those who don’t know, we’re talking about the S.S.A.B. Samoa Toa Dance Crew that won the Hip Hop International South Pacific Islands competition in Auckland. Selected from various hip hop crews around Samoa, the youngsters created a lot of excitement last week when they returned.

And why not? How often does a dance group from Samoa qualify for a global dancing competition? It’s not everyday this happens.

But how did this come about? 

Well, Assistant Manager and Music Composer, Kolone Tofaeono, said it started right here in Samoa.

 “Our team was selected from the top five hip hop crews after the TV1 Hip Hop competition earlier this year,” he said. “The A.O.K. from Vaiala, Movement, Brothers and Urban from Vaimoso and United Uso dance crew.”

From that initial step, they then had a month to prepare and being the first dance crew from Samoa to compete internationally, they were naturally nervous.

“The putting together of the team was one of the toughest challenge because these kids are from different places, but it was one thing we had to work hard on to achieve our goal,” said Mr. Tofaeono.

And the rest, as they say is history.

“We are so grateful for the opportunity we have received, especially competing in an international stage and also qualifying for the World Championships in the United States, the home of Hip Hop.

“We are happy with the results we have achieved for Samoa. This is something to put Samoa’s name on the map and for the individuals to expose their talents.”

Well we couldn’t agree more. And as the crew prepares for Arizona, allow us to congratulate them for a job well done so far. The thing is, with every gift we are given; it must be a goal to ensure we become the best at it. Whether it’s singing, dancing, sports, farmer, whatever… be the best you can be. 

Mind you, when it comes to dancing, the Toa Dance Crew shouldn’t have to look far for inspiration. Some of the world’s best dancers are Samoans. 

Just ask Lance Savali, who two weeks ago, experienced “the biggest show of my life” when he performed with Beyonce at Coachella.

But Beyonce was just one of them. He has also danced with Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Chris Brown and many more stars.

But those opportunities didn’t just land on Savali’s laps. He had to be determined, dedicated and focused. He had to be disciplined with his work-ethic, he remained hungry for success.

 “I never wanted to give up because I wanted to show the people back home and everyone who told me I couldn’t just be a dancer or who said I need a “real job” that it is possible if you have the right drive and work ethic and knowledge,” he said.  

Now here’s something all these dancers in Samoa should find familiar. Savali apparently grew his love for dance at church – like most Samoan kids.

In 2014, when Savali got word that Chris Brown would be holding auditions in LA for an upcoming showcase he pounced at the chance and jumped on a plane.

That was the beginning of it.

And now that he is on top of his game, he continues to stay hungry, saying he is motivated by his friends and family.

 “They motivate me to strive to be great everyday, I want to be successful so we all can be successful. I know it’s not easy and you have to be willing to sacrifice a lot. Be smart, make good decisions, as dancers help each other grow in a healthy environment, surround yourself with good leaders and role models, and always be willing to take risks.

“Do what you enjoy and what makes you happy at the end of the day and it will all fall into place how it should be, in good timing.”     

Well there you have it. 

Have a wonderful week Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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