Ma'ohi Nui shares Polynesian culture with Misawa community Published Aug. 1, 2011 By Staff Sgt. Marie Brown 35th Fighter Wing/Public Affairs MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- A loud "Aloha!" was the first thing the base community heard as they entered the Misawa Collocated Club for a luau presented by Armed Forces Entertainment featuring Ma'ohi Nui, a Polynesian entertainment group. Ma'ohi Nui wrapped up their AFE tour of Asian Pacific bases for service members and their families at Misawa. Club staff greeted the Misawa community with leis as they entered what looked to be a tropical paradise. "Service members and their families in the Misawa community certainly deserve some good fun," said James Maley, 35th Force Support Squadron. "It's important for them to have an opportunity to enjoy a night away from work." The evening started with music, singing and traditional Hawaiian food to include salmon lomi-lomi, chicken char siu and kalua pork. As the audience wrapped up their meals, the lights started to dim. Hawaiian dancers filled the stage with elaborate headdresses and costumes. Sounds of drums and chanting filled the entire ballroom. Children sat quietly around the stage fascinated by the vibrant colors and energetic dancing. "Seeing and hearing the excitement of the crowd truly made this night a big success," said Mr. Maley. "This is just one of the reasons why I love to do what I do." The performance included singing and dancing from many different islands of Polynesia and ranged from slow and romantic to fierce and dramatic. Just as the night was about to come to an end, the lights went out completely and soon all anyone could see was a ball of fire. The evening went out in flames as Arthur Tupuola, Ma'ohi Nui dancer, took the stage with a flaming wooden pole in hand. Tupuola moved the fire from one end of the pole to the other with his bare hand and commenced the Samoan fire knife dance. This dance is originally composed of a machete wrapped in towels on both ends with a portion of the blade exposed in the middle. Tribal performers dance while twirling the knife and doing other acrobatic stunts. The towels are set afire during the dances thus explaining the name. As the fire dance ended, dancers grabbed audience members for what they called Hula 101. Men, women and children came to the stage to try to shake their hips like the experienced Polynesian dancers. As a group, Ma'ohi Nui says their goal is to learn and share the customs and culture of Polynesian through song and dance. "It is very rewarding for us to be able to share what we love doing with everyone who is serving our country so that we can be free," said Mervyn Lilo.