Nonosina Polynesia, Inc. is without question, excellence personified. This vastly popular and renowned Polynesian dance group, often referred to as simply “Nonosina,” has dominated the world of Polynesian dance for over forty-five years. Such a lasting reputation could only come about with a strong emphasis and high value in family as well as a passion and respect for the Polynesian culture. A chance to go behind the scenes or “backstage” with Mevina and Tiana Liufau was more fun than business, which was perfectly fine with me.
Founded in 1965 by Estella Nonosina Reid, the leadership of Nonosina has been passed on through generations with Riki Manuia Liufau (daughter of Estella Reid) directing the group in the ‘70s to her very own children, Mevina and Tiana Nonosina Liufau, who direct the group today. With branches in Hawaii, Utah, and Japan (otherwise known as “Tavake Rereata – Nonosina Japan” and directed by Mevina Liufau), Nonosina’s expansive growth (over 500 strong and counting) is a true testament of their ability to uphold a tradition of unparalleled authenticity, originality, and innovation.
Mevina and Tiana are of Hawaiian, Samoan, and Tongan descent and admit that since they grew up in the dance studio alongside their parents who were also performers, the responsibility of heading Nonosina was a smooth transition. Mevina shares that the goal of Nonosina is to “focus on culture and put forward the differences and diversity [that they’re exposed to].” He also states, “Your environment is your culture; it’s not just through blood.” Nonosina celebrates individuality and strives to maintain a perspective on dance and music that is always evolving. It is no wonder then that Nonosina’s choreography and musical arrangements, all of which are original, encompasses a lot of different influences from an assortment of music genres to various styles of dance.
Tiana expresses that she prefers to use the term “movement” instead of “dance” and rightfully so. Any dance is a compilation of movements and it’s in how a movement is structured and executed that really accentuates the dance. Tiana constantly hears hints in music that trigger her creativity and inspire her to create movements that resonate with whatever sound or beat that attracts her. She also enjoys instilling a sense of puzzlement because she feels that any production with underlying themes that pushes the envelope and lingers with the audience long after the show is over is all the more worthwhile. The creative direction between Mevina and Tiana is sublime. Their work is a reflection of their personalities, a fusion of traditional and modern, and a showcase of the best Polynesia has to offer.
To say that Nonosina merely “loves” dance is an understatement; they LIVE for dance and music. Everything they do from costume design to dance choreography and music composition is done with an innate gratitude and love of their Polynesian heritage. Many already know and the world over will soon come to know of the in-depth cultural knowledge, the clean, strong basics and technique, and the pursuit to dance with heart that aesthetically defines Nonosina. Mevina and Tiana look forward to keeping Nonosina thriving and bringing Tahitian dance to the mainstream “main stage.” They show no signs of slowing down so Nonosina will be around for years to come.
For those who think that I’m all talk and blowing steam, take your doubt with you and see Nonosina live for yourself at the upcoming San Jose Tahiti Fete in July (the largest Tahitian dance competition in the continental U.S.). Trust me… Nonosina won’t disappoint, they won’t come half-hearted, and they’ll definitely BRING IT. Their competition knows; it’s about time you know too.
Follow Nonosina on Facebook or stop by anytime at their studio in Anaheim, CA. Nonosina mainly teaches Tahitian dance and all are welcomed to sign-up for classes, buy merchandise, or make any inquiries. Also, be on the lookout for the debut of Mevina’s solo album that will be produced under his own name and independent of Nonosina (THEWHATITDO already got dibs to cover that venture), and check out Tiana at the upcoming H.Y.P.E. conferences in New Zealand and Alaska where she’ll be participating as a speaker in the conference.
Article Written By: Juliet Uata
*All Photos Courtesy of Mevina and Tiana Liufau
*YouTube video “Nonosina 2010 San Jose Tahiti Fete” by baltarzars4u
*DailyMotion video “Aparima Purotu Ura No Marite Nonosina” by teriimataha