“Samoan children deserve same opportunities”
Twenty-seven-year-old Valentino Maliko has a mission for the young people of Samoa.
With limited resources, the Creative Director of Samoa Performing Arts and Creative Excellence (S.P.A.C.E.) center believes with the help of organisations, he can provide opportunities for talented youngsters in Samoa.
Valentino, who is the nephew of the late Seiuli Tuilagi Allan Alo Vaai who established S.P.A.C.E., wanted to carry on the legacy of his uncle.
“Coming back from New Zealand, I was only supposed to be here for two weeks for my late uncle’s unveiling,” he said.
“I came and there are so many kids who still want to dance, and now that he’s gone, I wanted to keep his legacy alive. We’ve always talked about it in the past, one day he’s going to open up the dance studio, he was going to come and teach.
“Unfortunately, that never got to happen while he was still alive. So better late than never, I am here now and I am keeping my promise and doing as much as I can because I was born here.”
Valentino said he wants children in Samoa to be given the same opportunity as children in New Zealand.
“I want the same big companies to fund these kids, because they are so talented, and we just have to tame it and train them. And what better place for expression than on the dance floor, through music, through singing or whatever kind of art form,” he said.
“I wanted to show Samoa what I have to offer, the skills. I can take these guys wherever and tell our stories. New Zealand has a lot of platforms for Pacific Islands and stuff, but who better it come from than our people from our own land, living the Samoan life. I think it’s just more authentic and genuine when it comes from our own mother land.”
Valentino has been dancing since he was 16 years old, and this week his group of dancers performed a dance based on the legend of Nafanua and his prophesy of Christianity arriving into Samoa.
“My passion was singing, so I’ve always been singing, but I had no idea how big Allen was in the industry until I turned 19 and my second major was dancing. Apparently it runs in my blood and now singing becomes the hobby rather than dancing.
“I plan to stay and train the kids. I am trying to involve myself as much as I can with the Pacific Games next year.”
He said the S.P.A.C.E. studio has mirrors and dance floor completed but they still needed a lot of materials for the children.
“A lot of the students come from Gua. A lot of them come from financially unstable families. A lot of them have them have 9-5 jobs to support their families, we are not going to dance here and get paid for it. That’s the bigger dream and longtime goals,” Valentino said.
“The challenge is to always try and get the kids to motivate themselves, because I cannot always motivate them when they feel like they’ve had a bad day and that kind of feeling lingers on until they don’t want to come back anymore.”
Valentino has this to say to the youth: “Might be cliché, whatever your dream is, whether it be dancing, math, don’t give up, even if everyone around you including your family give up on you, God will always open a door for you.”