Merced County Times Newspaper
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Kiki Raina dance festival draws thousands to Merced

 

Thousands of dancers, visitors and local residents descended on Golden Valley High School last weekend to celebrate the 43rd annual Kiki Raina Tahiti Fete — the longest-running Tahitian dance and cultural festival outside of French Polynesia.

The three-day event quickly sold out on the first day as attendance quickly surpassed the 2,000 person mark that was allotted for Cougar gymnasium.

As the first dance revue of a nationwide circuit of contests highlighting Tahitian and Polynesian dancing, the Kiki Raina Tahiti Fete serves as a glimpse into the upcoming trends of island dancing.

Etua Tahauri, Lucie Fonoimoana, Cathrine Teri’ipaia, Charles Temenaha, Tom Mariteragi, and Regina Pasi served as the event’s judges, with John Gavieres, Norman Munoz, and Roy Asuega as the event’s masters of ceremonies.

Rebecca Ka’awela Manandic, the founder of Merced’s South Pacific Dance Company, spoke to those in attendance about their efforts in spreading island culture throughout the states.

Those who attended the event also had the opportunity to shop inside a pop-up vendor mall, and meet with dancers from across the continent.

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