Dancing makes me proud: papa

Friday July 31, 2020 Written by Published in Entertainment
Ngarima George celebrates 41 years of the dancer of the year contest. 20073004 Ngarima George celebrates 41 years of the dancer of the year contest. 20073004

Tonight will be special for cultural master Papa Ngarima George, when he dances on stage for the Rauti Para event.

George will be competing in the golden oldies category of dancer of the year, the very competition he founded in 1979.

“Dancing is an exercise, it’s our culture, it’s an opportunity to show people who you are and where you come from,” he said.

At 74 years old he decided to join the competition to encourage others to dance and as a 41st celebration for the dancer of the year.

He still recalls the winners of the first few years: in 1979 Papatua won the men’s section and Here Kase the women’s. Eric and Julie Bateman of the Tumunu Restaurant sponsored the event.

In 1980 Tereapii (Sabu) Matapo and Cathy Foster claimed the titles, and in 1981 Mau Raina and the late Mamia Tunui Savage.

Born and raised on Manihiki, George start dancing at the age of five, and moved to Rarotonga at the age of 17.

He was inspired to start the dancer of the year competition on Rarotonga when he reminisced over the contests held in Manihiki.

The dancers would dance to the same beat that would not stop, it was continuous drumming, the fittest and last person left dancing would win the grand prize, he said.

Not nervous or excited about tonight’s show, George says: “It’s just normal, I’ll be there and I’ll enjoy it.”

“Dancing makes me proud, my father was also a dancer from Manihiki, and my mother is from Rarotonga – but she was brought up in Manihiki.”

In the early 70s’s, George was also a member of the Cook Islands National Arts Theatre that dissolved in 1976; a few years later with several others they formed Te Ivi Maori dance group in 1978.

And George has some advice for the organisers: “Please, we would like see a section for those aged 70 years and over.”

The show starts tonight from 8pm at the Rehab Night club. Judges for the evening are Peka Takai George, Jane Rubena and John Pareanga.

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