The Tamure Polynesian Arts Group has celebrated their culture through song and dance for almost half a century.
The group practices every week in Brooklyn Park — an area of Maryland where there are few Pacific Islanders.
The dancers say that, in each other, they found family.
“I remember going to a carnival and seeing a show for the first time, and I just knew I had to do it,” said Julie Bruce, a member of the group.
Meki Toalepai leads the group.
“It’s part of my heritage. I was born and raised into it,” he said.
His parents founded it in 1969. His father, Meki Sr., moved to the area from Western Samoa, and wanted everyone to see what the islands have to offer.
“It’s just a beautiful way of life, what they call the aloha spirit in Hawaii. Everything’s kind of laid back,” Toalepai said.
Della Sztuk, a member of the group, described it as “love and approaching everything with an open heart.”
The group performs several times a year in hopes to reach as many people as possible.
“We like to teach them a little geography, some greeting words, the distinct costuming for each,” Toalepai said.
The group hopes to share their culture of kindness in every dance.
“We stick to that tradition and learn it, and know it, and love it and share it with others,” Bruce said.