Sachiko is a Composer and Choreographer with Fiji’s internationally renowned independent dance company VOU. After completing a Bachelor of Music in Composition, and a Bachelor of Performing Arts in Dance at the University of Auckland she returned home to Fiji to continue her passion and spread the magic of music and dance from the Pacific across the globe. Sachiko has performed, composed and choreographed works in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, China, Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, New Caledonia, PNG, Canada the US, the Solomon Islands, Guam, France, England, Scotland, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia and of course throughout the paradise of the Fiji Islands. She is also currently the president of the Fiji Chapter of the World Dance Alliance. Sachiko wants to help create sustainable artistic career paths and develop the arts industries in Fiji. She wants to provide quality arts education in Fiji through the VOU music and dance School, which currently has 2 branches in Suva and Nadi and over 300 students from the age of 3 year to adults. Sachiko believes strongly in VOU’s vision of taking the Energy! Spirit! Mana! of contemporary Fijian music and dance to the world.
Edward Soro is a VOU dancer of enormous energy and enthusiasm. He started dancing with the company in 2008 and since then he has toured with the company to Australia, New Zealand, India, China, PNG, the Solomon Islands, Guam, England, Scotland, France, Slovenia, Spain, Latvia and Lithuania.
After graduating from the University of the South Pacific in Finance and Management and working for a prominent bank in Suva, Edward soon came to his senses and decided to quit his bank job and pursue his passion for dance full time with VOU.
Since then he has taught with the VOU School and choreographed for the company but his most treasured accomplishment was travelling around the rural areas of Fiji learning and documenting traditional Fijian Chants and Dances. Edward has completed his Post-Graduate Diploma in Dance Studies at the University of Auckland and wants to go on to do his Masters in Fijian meke. He strongly advocates for the youth of Fiji to learn and take pride in their unique individual meke because if the younger generation choose not to learn and engage with their culture this treasured cultural knowledge will become extinct.
Edward is married to VOU Member Sachiko Soro and they have two babies, Rasa and Yasi.
Rusiate’s personal story is an example of how dance can revolutionize a life and be a blessing for a whole family. Rusi is from the village of Colo-I- Suva, he is from a single parent family and has three younger sisters. When he was only 13 years old his mother could not afford to send both him and his sisters to school.
So Rusi decided that he would stop going to school in order for his sisters to get the basic education that they need to get ahead in life. Rusi then started a life on the street as a street kid and shoe shine boy. He would try and make a few dollars here and there but as he describes he was just wasting time and getting up to mischief. Since he had not finished school, even though he wanted to work he found it so hard to find employment.
It was then his mother saw an ad in the newspaper for a VOU audition and suggested he come to the audition and try to see if he could get a job as a dancer. His family had never ever heard or thought of being a dancer as an actual job.
Rusi came early and eager to the audition and awkwardly got through the rigorous training. He was not the best dancer in the room but he threw himself into each task and tried everything to the best of his ability. Due to his effort and enthusiasm he was offered a permanent job with VOU. He has since been working, training and now teaching with the company for the past four years.
Since joining the company he has joined indigenous peoples from all over the world in a traditional 3 week canoe journey in Canada, represented Fiji in the world Hip Hop championships in Las Vegas and created a piece about a specific Lali for the Auckland Museum in New Zealand. He has also travelled to various parts of Europe with the VOU team last year to countries such as France, Lithuania, Latvia, England, Slovenia and Scotland. Rusi has also developed his skills for teaching and is now a teacher at the VOU School. He is a favourite amongst the children and teachers the boy’s 5 – 8 years classes and also beginners contemporary dance. Rusi’s full time wage is now supporting his whole family and he is paying for his 3 sisters, transport, food and school associated costs.
In 2014 VOU hosted a choreographer from Taiwan Mar. Jack Sun who came to teach his style of Butoh dance. Jack really admired the way Rusi moved and choreographed and they became good friends. Jack then invited Rusi to come to Taiwan to do collaboration with his company for 3 months. So Rusi travelled to Taiwan where he and Jack collaborated to make a one-hour production for his company 8128 Physical Dance Theatre. While in Taiwan Rusi also taught Meke dance classes to high school students and dance students all over Taiwan.
This year the production that they created was selected from over 40 Taiwanese dance companies to represent Taiwanese contemporary dance at the prestigious festival du Avignon in France. So in 2015, Rusi went back to Taiwan to prepare with Jack’s company to do a 2 month season in France. He is the first ever Fijian to perform at this festival, which is one of the worlds biggest.
This is just one example of how creating opportunities through dance can revolutionize a life and the lives of their family.
From the moment she tried contemporary dance she felt like she was finally communicating as her true self. Lina is also accomplished in traditional Rotuman dancing as she has heritage from the Polynesian Islands of Rotuma and performs also with her traditional Rotuman dance community.
Lina first came to a VOU audition early 2015 and then she was given a scholarship to further her training at the VOU School later on that year and was finally invited to join the company full time.
Through her short time in VOU she travelled to China, England, France, Scotland, Lithuania and Latvia, touring and performing internationally.
Lina also has a passion for hip hop dance, her dream is to help to change the attitudes in Fiji that believe that hip hop is for men only and that women can not dance hip hop. She wants to challenge this belief by becoming a kick ass Hip Hop dancer.
Tevita is from from Natoka, Navatusila in the province of Navosa. He is currently studying and is a part time dancer with VOU Dance Fiji. As he was growing up, dancing was always something that intrigued him as it was a way he could escape and channel whatever emotion he was feeling into something that made more sense to him.
Tevita joined VOU in 2013 and his first performance was at Sofitel Resort, since then he has performed with VOU in China and Tevita represented Fiji in contemporary dance at the Melanesian Arts Festival in Papua New Guinea, and has toured with VOU to New Zealand performing at the Tempo Festival and Grounded Competition in 2016.
From the past few months with VOU, Tevita has found that dance can be a physical manifestation of our emotions and the expression of the soul – you can either explode with rage, joy, sorrow or just simply implode and just be silent as well.
VOU has taught him a lot of life lessons including developing himself as an artist and more importantly, as a person. Every time Tevita performs he feels like he learns something new.
Ke-Anna first joined dancing as a form of therapy to get through a very personally challenging period in her life. Through dance she was able to channel her emotions and express them in a positive way.
Ke-Anna has found her calling in life and has been with the VOU School for 5 years doing Hip Hop and contemporary since the very first term when she was only 11 years old.
Since joining Ke-Anna was chosen to represent the country in the first ever hip hop team to travel to Las Vegas and compete in the world championships. She also travelled with VOU to China where she performed traditional and contemporary Fijian dance to new Chinese audiences. She was on VOU’s recent tour to Europe in 2016 and travelled to France, Lithuania, Latvia, England, Slovenia and Scotland. She was also part of the team that went to Marbella Spain in May 2017.
Ben has always liked to be different and this is part of the reason for his passion for dance. Although he was good at other sports at school he found he was most comfortable with dance. Ben was a part of the Cathedral Secondary School Tadra Kahani team three years in a row and in the third year they won the competition.
This win was the inspiration that encouraged him to come to VOU for dance classes and from there his talent was spotted and he was asked to join the company in 2012. Since then Ben has worked with various choreographers that have visited from around the world and he has performed hundreds of shows locally around Fiji. The more Ben dances the more he has learnt that dance has become an integral part of him.
Ben led the first team to travel to Happy Valley Theme Park in China last year and is currently leading a team of four in Shenzhen, China for one year at the Windows of the World Park
Ta’Arei started her own Multi-Cultural dance group with her relatives and friends when she was very young, she choreographed and organized this group that performed locally around Suva. Ta’Arei has Kiribati heritage and is knowledgeable in Kiribati dance and other Polynesian dance forms from around the region.
In 2013 Ta’Arei won the Miss Teen for the Hibiscus pageant, and her talent was an exceptional self-choreographed contemporary dance about child abuse. Ta’Arei was invited to join VOU in 2014, Ta’Arei feels that dance is an outlet and is a way for her to connect her body to her mind and spirit.
Whilst in VOU she has travelled with teams to Beijing, China and was one of the core dancers that toured Europe in 2016. Ta’Arei is in charge of training the Suva team and is one of the few emerging female choreographers in Fiji.
Ella has had some contemporary and Ballet training growing up in Fiji from a few expat teachers that have come in over the years. In 2012 she started dancing with the VOU School doing Contemporary dance and in 2014 she joined the VOU Company.
In high School Ella was a part of the Chinese Youth Social Cultural Association at Yat Sen Secondary. With this group she toured to China twice to represent Fiji in the Bridge International Competition where she performed traditional Chinese fan dance as her talent.
Ella says that dance makes her feel very comfortable and content in her skin as a young woman. Ella believes there is huge potential for dance in Fiji. However, there is still stigma surrounding contemporary dance and dance as a professional career path, and we have to overcome that in order to tap into the vast amount of talent that Fiji holds.
Ella is currently studying Arts Management in New Zealand and wants to develop festivals in Fiji. Ella has toured with VOU twice in 2016, travelling to Guam for the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts and to Shanghai, China, where she spent three months at Happy Valley Theme Park
Edwin believes that he can express himself through dance, that it helps him to take his mind off things and is a mental release.
Whilst he was growing up he thought that music was his favourite artform and played the guitar for many years, but one day he was doing a tribal dance for VOU when he realised that something had changed and he now loved dance more than music. He is our VOU Billy Elliot and keeps on dancing against all odds!
Edwin has been on several tours with VOU including China, Bali, Singapore, England, France, Scotland, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Spain.
He is currently organizing tours for VOU and was trained under the tutelage of our previous Digital Marketing Manager and Tour Organizer, Vanessa Eden who was with us as a volunteer from AVI for one year.
Sevu’s talent was spotted at an audition for the Dancing Superstar contest and he was offered a scholarship to dance with the VOU School. He then joined the VOU School in Nadi and trained there for one year. His raw talent shone in all the contemporary and Hip Hop classes that he did, so when he moved to Suva to attend USP he was invited to join the company.
Sevu is now working full-time with VOU as a Costume Designer and Costume Manager. He is also a teacher and is a favourite among our 3-4 year olds. He has an eye for detail and has been using his sixth fashionable sense to make amazing costumes.
Sevu wants to keep the fire of creativity that dance brings to his life and feels that ‘Dance is an expression of a being through movement’.
Sevu has toured with VOU to Shanghai for three months where he has learnt immensely about costume keeping and construction especially when on tour.
Rosie is one of the youngest members of VOU and is completing her studies at St Josephs Secondary where she regularly choreographs for their concerts. Rosie is the younger sister of Ta’arei Weeks and she was a member of the Multi-Cultural dance group that her sister Ta’arei ran.
Rosie has been on tour once with VOU to Bali. She will also be travelling to Europe this year touring London and Austria.
Rosie came to join the VOU School with a cousin of hers in 2012 where she did drum classes and Hip Hop dance. She joined the VOU Company in 2014.