Tuaopepe Tasi Keener is the director of the Paradise of Samoa, a non-profit cultural organization that teaches and performs Polynesian dance and art. Born and raised in the Independent State of Samoa, she is a High Chief with the title of Tuaopepe from Lefaga, Samoa. Ms. Keener immigrated to Oregon in 1999 and became active with the small Samoan community in and around Salem, Oregon. She saw that many in the Pacific Islander community, in particular, the young people, were having difficulty in learning and maintaining aspects of the unique cultures of the islands of their heritage. This was especially true in the area of the arts and language. Many of the young islanders had never been to the islands, and were unfamiliar with the culture, music, and dance from their native islands.
With her training in the Samoan arts and dance, Tasi began working with the Samoan Club of the Willamette Valley and the Salem Multicultural Institute as the choreographer of Samoan dance and entertainment, and developed shows for several community events and activities in order to illustrate Polynesian Cultures. She organized a studio in her home, and began teaching in earnest. She choreographs the routines and procures and develops and crafts all the costumes. Tasi also speaks on diversity and inclusion in our community, and plays the ukulele and sings in the Paradise of Samoa Band. She works full time as a mental health professional with the State of Oregon. Paradise of Samoa receives grants from the Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, and the Marion Cultural Development Corporation.
This event is presented in partnership with the Oregon Folklife Network. Salem Multicultural Institute is also proud to work with Willamette Valley Kitchen Co. to make this event possible.