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 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 and the Solomon Islands.
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 is currently completing 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.
Vivian is an award winning performer, dancer, artist, choreographer, and creator. He is of Cook Islands descent and grew up in Onehunga, Auckland now living in Suva Fiji. Vivian is influenced by his Street dance and Pacific dance culture and uses these significant styles as foundations of creating, having to always sugar coat everything with a hint of ‘Viv style’. He has been taught and has worked with New Zealand’s top dance educators and established dance choreographers such as Sarah Foster-Sproull, Sarah Knox, Moss Patterson, Dr Ralph Buck, Dr Carol Brown, Dr Rose Martin, Dr Alys Longley and Dr Mark Harvey.
Vivian has a Bachelor of Dance Studies from the University of Auckland and has recently completed his Postgraduate Studies in Dance from the University of Auckland. Vivian travelled to Macau China to perform at the International Youth Dance Festival 2014 and to Las Vegas USA to compete at the World Hip Hop International Competition 2014. Vivian was also a dancer in Militia Dance Crew who are Street Dance New Zealand’s Auckland Regional Champions for the adult section 2014. An award winning choreographer for his work ‘Opaque’ in Short and Sweet Dance Festival 2014 he received People’s Choice Award, Wallace Trust Emerging Artists Award and Best Choreographer Award. ‘Opaque’ was then showcased in Y Chromozone which was a part of Tempo Dance Festival 2014. Vivian continued to create work and produced ‘Territory Association 14’ which was then showcased in the programme Tertiary Colours which was also a part of Tempo Dance Festival 2014. Vivian was also a performer in Sarah Foster-Sproull’s ‘Massive Group’.
Vivian choreographed ‘Melted Brown’ for Short and Sweet Dance Festival 2015 which won Best Production, Risk Takers Award, Best Male Performer (Elijah Kennar) and the Wallace Trust Emerging Artist Award. Vivian has also choreographed for One Step Beyond Dance Company and Pointy Dog Dance Company who performed in Secondary Colours in Tempo Dance Festival 2015. Vivian created a ‘EVE’ which was part of Malaga in Tempo Dance Festival 2015. Vivian received a University of Auckland Blues Award for his contibution and commitment to Dance and Choreography in New Zealand.
Vivian received a Choreographic Residency award to travel over to VOU Dance Company June 2015 where he fell in love with the vibrant and amazing dancers of VOU.
“Dance is all I do and all I think about. All I want to do in life is share, inspire, share and inspire – what is in my craycray brain. I thank God so much for my talents and pathway in life”.
Vanessa is currently the Marketing and Arts Administrator with VOU. She is originally from the UK where she spent 10 years working in the NGO sector as a Researcher and Information Analyst. Following a move to Australia, Vanessa worked as a Research Assistant in tourism at Southern Cross University. She then spent two years in Fiji as a Cultural Tourism Developer for the Fiji Arts Council supporting and developing Fijian and Pacific arts. During this time she worked on the first Wasawasa Festival, the Heritage Arts Exhibitions and the Fijian delegation to the Melanesian Arts Festival in New Caledonia. After this, she returned to Australia where she studied Arts Management at RMIT and then worked as an Events Coordinator. More recently she taught Marketing at Southern Cross University. Throughout all this time, she continued to support the Fijian and Pacific arts sector whenever she could. This included working with the Pasifika Gallery at the inaugural Boomerang Festival in Byron Bay, Australia. Vanessa embraces the inspiration, innovation and creativity that is an integral part of VOU and is thrilled to be part of the VOU journey.
It is her firm belief that if art and culture is valued and supported, it has the power to interweave its way into a society, making that society economically and socially richer and more sustainable.
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 three 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. 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 this year Rusi is getting ready to go back to Taiwan to prepare with Jack’s company then do a 2 months 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.
The newest member of the VOU family, Lina is from Coli-i-Suva and joined VOU in March 2015. 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 in 2013 and then she was given a scholarship to further her training at the VOU School in 2014 and was finally invited to join the company full time in 2015.
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.
After joining the VOU Dance School to get fit little did Eleni know this decision would change her life forever. As a talented student from the VOU School Eleni was selected as a dancer to be a part of the VOU team that represented Fiji at the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in the Solomon Islands, an experience that really took her skill and experience to the next level. Since this initial tour she has also performed as far and wide as Papua New Guinea, Canada, New Zealand and has travelled around Fiji researching traditional chants and dances.
In 2014 Eleni was the first iTaukei dancer to be awarded the Indigenous Dance Residency at the Banff Arts Center in Canada. During her time in Canada she worked alongside the best indigenous dancers from around the world and trained intensively for more than 12 hours a day. She came back a new woman, full of confidence, ideas and inspiration to pass onto the next generation of Fijian artists.
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.
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.
Ke-Anna is finishing her form 6 this year at Yat Sen secondary, then she hopes to dance with VOU for one year to gain a little more experience before going to do her Bachelors Degree in Dance in Australia.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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. He 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 studying Psychology and Journalism at USP, is a writer and contributes regularly to their Wansolwara publication, he is a firm believer that every individual can to their best to make the world a better place, so Sevu volunteers at various national NGO’s in Fiji such as Transparency International and Youth Champs for Mental Health.
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’.
Rosie is the baby of VOU and is still in High School 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 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.