The competition is the highlight of the annual Island Dance Festival Week, and is a prestigious dance title in the Cook Islands. Pierre is delighted to hold the coveted title, saying dancing has been a long-time love of his, and that winning the National Dancer of the Year is something he has wanted to achieve for some time.
“I’m a proud Cook Islander and it’s been something I’ve wanted to do for the past three years; this year was the year I finally decided to do it. Dancing has been my passion from a young age, and it’s something that will never go away.”
This is not the first time Pierre has found success in this competition either. After he discovered his natural talent and love of dance at a young age, Pierre was awarded the junior title back in 1996.
Defending champion Teariki Mateariki was declared not eligible for this year’s competition by the Ministry of Cultural Development, as he has been living abroad since June last year.
The rules of the competition state that all contestants must have resided permanently in the Cook Islands at least three months before the closing date of entry, which was April 17. Mateariki had returned to the island especially for the competition, but did not compete.
Traditionally, Cook Islands dances tell stories passed down from generation to generation and are practiced rigorously since early childhood. Pierre’s theme for his winning dance this year was was ‘Te Reo Maori’ and ‘keeping our language alive’, a theme which is obviously very close to his heart.
Pierre has not only found success on a national scale, he has also been selected to perform at a variety of prestigious national events including the Queen’s Jubilee in 2012, an event which was witnessed by millions around the world.
“I danced at Te Vara Nui for two years and was there for the opening, I went on a trip to England to support the Queen’s Jubilee, as part of the Cook Islands group,” he says. Following on from this amazing opportunity, Pierre travelled throughout Europe as part of the Cook Islands performance team, and was also featured in King Kapisi’s music video ‘Clap Ya Hands’.
Currently Pierre’s dancing aspirations are to pass on his love of dance to his three children and have them “follow in Daddy’s footsteps.” And it seems to be working, with his two eldest children performing as part of the Te Rau Maire Dance Troup, a local group that performs at a variety of events around Rarotonga.
Not only claiming the title of ‘Dancer of the Year’, Pierre also won ‘Best Costume of the Night’, another amazing accomplishment, given the high standard of costumes which appear at this event. Pierre says he will be framing his costume it to remind him of the glory days and allow him to “reminisce on the good times.”