It's easy to find Hawaiian dance groups in Modesto, but it's another story with Tahitian organizations.
Ote'a 'Api, a group with studios in Fremont and Tracy, will fill in that gap with its show "Tahiti Alive! A Polynesian Dance Extravaganza" on Saturday at the State Theatre in Modesto.
"This is an internationally known Tahitian dance group," said Shelley Akiona of event sponsor Mixed Plate Promotions. "They performed in Tahiti, Mexico and all over the U.S. and Hawaii. It's Pacific island culture dance and music at its best."
The opening act is Modesto Hawaiian musician James Bent, who performs drums, guitar, bass and piano and sings. Island food, crafts and fresh leis will be for sale in the lobby.
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The show is a benefit for the annual George Naope Kane (men) Hula Competition and Keiki (children) Festival, set for Aug. 8-9 at Modesto Centre Plaza.
Ote'a 'Api has 30 performers, including Modesto resident Mitchell Asuncion and his teen son Grady Nakano. The dancers wear grass skirts, headdresses with flowers, feathers and shells, and perform with drummers.
The group has won numerous trophies and dance competitions over the past 20 years.
"I educate my students on the tradition of Tahitian dance and we always give our audience a piece of Tahiti," Artistic Director Anthony Manaois said in a statement. He attributes his success to "the knowledge passed onto me from generations before me, my teachers from the past, the people I've worked with, am working with and will be working with ... and a positive outlook."
Bent is a regular performer at the Fat Cat Music House & Lounge in Modesto and soon will tour Hawaii to promote his newest album, "Generations." He mixes traditional island music with funk, jazz and R&B. He said he always is looking for ways to put a new spin on Hawaiian music.
Akiona, who is not performing in the show, has a long background in Polynesian dance. A native of Honolulu, she started dancing hula at age 10 and has taught Hawaiian dance since 1990. She won the dance award in the 2009 Stanislaus Arts Council Excellence in Arts Awards.
She said the show is not only a great way to get a taste of French Polynesian culture but a fun family event.
"It's an affordable evening out," she said.