Nation mourns Seiuli’s passing

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene ,

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REST IN LOVE: Seiuli Alan Alo Vaai.

Samoa has a lost a national character.

Today, families, friends and everyone whose lives were touched by Seiuli Alan Alo Vaai are mourning his passing away. 

On social media last night, mourners across the globe paid tribute to a leader whose talents and work ethics were nothing short of inspiring.

The news of his passing filtered out Tuesday night where many of his relatives and friends announced the sad loss.

A family member, who spoke to the Samoa Observer on the condition of anonymity, said they are devastated.

“He passed away at around 8 o’clock on Wednesday night,” she told the Samoa Observer.

“Our mother video called us last night. They (relatives and friends) were all at the hospital surrounding his bed. I mean, everyone who could make it showed their love and support.”

Seiuli died from cancer.

Yesterday was his birthday.

“It’s such sad news especially to happen so close to his birthday but we’re pretty sure he’s celebrating it in heaven. We sorely miss Alan!”

Plans for his final funeral service are yet to be finalised.

Last year, Seiuli was diagnosed with stage 4 Metastasis Lung and Brain Cancer.

An article about his life changing battle was published in Samoa Observer where he talked about his condition. The President of the Samoa Arts Council was later nominated as one of Samoa Observer’s People for 2016.

REST IN LOVE:  Seiuli Alan Alo Vaai.
REST IN LOVE: Seiuli Alan Alo Vaai.

At the time he told the Samoa Observer having been raised in the traditional dance styles of Samoa, he was inspired to further explore dancing as an art form, self-teaching in modern, contemporary, jazz, and funk styles with like-minded artists at the Madd Art Gallery based in Sāmoa.

He started a Bachelor degree in Expressive Arts with the University of the South Pacific in 1998. 

While studying for his undergraduate degree Seiuli, with two others, founded the Oceania Dance Theatre and since its founding, he has choreographed numerous pieces for the group which have been performed for audiences locally and abroad.

He grew up in an environment that is not very supportive of the arts.

He was one of the minorities and he wanted to do something more in the arts and so he was one of the pioneers and had been the forefront of the development of arts.

He got a scholarship to Fiji to do expressive art and that was approved by Fiame Naomi Mata’afa during her time as Minister of Education and that was out of studying law at the time so instead of finishing his law degree, he finished off his degree in exclusive art and started from there.

In December last year he opened a new project called Samoa Performing Arts & Creative Excellence (S.P.A.C.E.).

He said at the time that the project was something that he wanted to live behind so that the young people of Samoa can benefit from it and can embrace art. He spent most of his young years in New Zealand and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in the Expressive Arts and Literature as well as a Post Graduate Diploma in Dramatic Literature. 

He has directed and choreographed original Pacific productions that took him to the western continents such as China, South Africa, Singapore, Japan and to the eastern continents to places such as Cuba, South America, central Americas and around the Pacific region. 

He continues his work using the Performing Arts as an instrument to help inspire and empower young people to remember their rich Pacific cultures given the social pressures brought in by globalization, new technology and modernization in today’s Pacific.

He was the Choreographer for the South Pacific Games in 2007 and the Samoa Youth Commonwealth Games this year.

Seiuli hails from the villages of Falealupo, Vaisala, Asau, Safotu, Fogapoa, Fatausi and Samatau. He is the youngest of seven children of Alapati Alo Va’ai and Sofaea Tanielu – Alo Va’ai.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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