About 2 weeks ago Group 75 arrived in Samoa. They are the 75th group of Peace Corps volunteers to come and assist Samoa in its development. As senior volunteers, the rest of us put on a traditional welcome fiafia for them to showcase traditional Samoan entertainment. We had our senior boy volunteers perform a “slap dance”, our senior girl volunteers a “siva teine”, and even a “sasa”. Someone’s boyfriend’s brother agreed to fire dance for us and the evening was closed by the traditional Taupo dance. Now, in a typical fiafia in a Samoan village the “siva Taupo” is performed by the High Chief’s daughter. She wears a fine mat tied around her body and a huge heavy crown called a “tuiga”. The dance is performed solo although, traditionally the village boys will get up behind her and dance ridiculously to make the crowd laugh. If a boy wants to show awe and affection for the Taupo he will lay down in front of her while she is dancing and if she wishes she can return the affection by briefly placing her foot on his back while she continues her dance. A box or plate is placed in front of her where the crowd may get up to place money in or they may choose to stick money onto to her coconut oil covered body. At a certain point in the dance the audience is invited to dance with her but behind her.
Within our Peace Corps community we don’t have a high chief but traditionally, the group of volunteers who are closest to leaving select a girl from their group to be the Taupo. I was given this amazing opportunity for this last fiafia. My boyfriend’s sisters made my fine mat and tuiga and taught me how to dance as a Taupo. His brother taught me how to spin the traditional Taupo knife in the dance. All came to support and watch me perform this ancient tradition two weeks ago. It was an experience I’ll never forget. Magical is all I can say about it. A friend recorded it and I have it posted for you to see. The filming is not high high quality but it will give you an idea of what a siva Taupo is. I did drop the knife once. It was covered in Coconut oil and could barely hold it as it was. Hope you enjoy.