Performers from Tihati Productions' Polynesian shows are bringing Island song and dance to the White House's South Lawn Friday night to highlight a luau fit for a president.
President Obama and the first family are expected to attend the picnic. A welcome side benefit: Publicity from the event could provide a shot in the arm for Hawaii tourism.
The Obamas will join congressional delegations from the 50 states and their families in sampling Island culture and feasting on a Hawaii-inspired menu created and prepared by Chef Alan Wong .
"The White House specifically wanted a Samoan knife twirler," she said. "Well, we will bring six fire-knife dancers, who will do a pyramid formation."
Tihati performances draw on the traditions of Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, the Cook Islands and Maori New Zealand. To fill out the cast for this special performance, the Thompsons raided Tihati productions at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, The Royal Hawaiian, the Hilton Hawaiian Village, the Hyatt Regency Maui, the Hyatt Regency Kauai and the Waikoloa Marriott.
"We're pulling out our best, bringing four giant pahu (photo: HTA - Tor Johnson) measuring 10 feet high and 4 feet in diameter," said Cha Thompson. "We'll do hula, Tahitian, everything ... and we'll feature that six-man Samoan fire dance pyramid."
Tufono said the White House engagement will help stimulate interest in the Islands — to help distinguish and expose Hawaiian and other Polynesian entertainment forms — and perhaps help boost visitor occupancy in the future.
Images: Cha Thompson