Sunday, 27 May 2018

Dances of Samoa

To celebrate Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa - Samoan Language Week we are looking at all things Samoan. Today the Justice League read 'Dances of Samoa' by Toleafoa Avauli Peter Setefano, they then compared two of the dances in the article.


In Samoa, dance plays a big part in the culture of the people. It helps to show who they are and adds richness to their lives. Two beloved dance forms that we are comparing are the fa’ataupati and the sasa.

Performed by Boys
Both the fa’ataupati (slap dance) and the sasa (posture dance) can be performed by boys. The fa’ataupati is usually performed exclusively by young men. On the other hand the sasa can be performed by men, women, boys and girls.

Everyday Actions - Jack and Isaac
Both dances are based on everyday actions. The fa’ataupati Is based on swatting mosquitoes. In contrast the everyday actions in the sasa include greeting people, swimming and making ava (a ceremonial drink).

Together in Rhythm - Georgia and Caroline
Both dances carry out the movements out together in time to the rhythm. The fa’ataupati is performed with body percussion by slapping the thighs, chest and shoulders in time to the beat. On the other hand the sasa dancers use hand and legs actions exactly in time to the rhythm.

Musical Backing - Arina
Both dances include musical backing. The fa’ataupati was originally performed without any musical backing, but nowadays, someone plays a drum or a fala (A rolled up mat). Together with the movements of the dancers, the beat helps to make the dance exiting and powerful. However the musical backing of the sasa includes the pate (wooden slit drum), tins or a fala.

Overall the dances of Samoa continue to play a significant role in the lives of Samoans both at home and abroad. The dances are now popular throughout Samoa, American Samoa and Hawai’i as well as other Pacific Islands. The dances of Samoa can even be seen in Aotearoa.

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