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Queen to accompany Tongan dance group to Hawaii festival

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Rehearsal by the Kanokupolu Dancers, at the Tonga National Centre. May 2017.

Tonga's Queen Nanasipau'u will travel to Hawaii in early August with a group of Kanokupolu dancers who have been invited to perform at the Asia Pacific Dance Festival in Honolulu.

The festival funded by the University of Hawaii and the East West Center, occurs every two years in Honolulu to celebrate dance traditions from Asia and the Pacific. Concerts on August 5-6 at the Kennedy Theatre will be open to the public.

A festival coordinator, Dr Adrienne L. Kaeppler who was visiting Tonga in May, briefed the group during a rehearsal at the Tonga National Centre.

"This year is the third festival and the featured countries are Hawaii, Tonga and Korea. The Tongans will perform two programmes consisting of about 35 minutes each, and the group has also been working with the Queen on repertoire and costumes," she said.

The group leader and artistic director, Kotoni Siale, from Kanokupolu, will travel with 12 dancers, plus musicians singers and a wardrobe mistress, forming a group of about 20 people, including Queen Nanasipau'u.

Dances featured will be the Ma'ulu'ulu, 'Otuhaka, Me'etuupaki, Ula, Ta'olunga and Lakalaka (Folaosi from Kanokupolu, 'Aho e tue tuē).

"The festival is part of a dance and theatre department class at the University at Hawaii called 'Dance in World Cultures'," said Adrienne.

Kotoni and the dancers will also be teaching students that attend the class in Tongan dance lessons.

Queen Nanasipau'u will attend a welcome ceremony on August 4 at the East West Centre, where the Tongan, Korean and Hawaiian dancers will also perform.