4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

SD Fringe: 1918

Joy shimmers, then...visitors

After widespread death, blue dancers spill out from the wings and perform with doubled intensity.
After widespread death, blue dancers spill out from the wings and perform with doubled intensity.

Word-of-mouth moved fast for Le Moana’s amazing dance-theater piece about the outbreak of Spanish Influenza in Samoa, 1918. The Saturday afternoon show was packed. The troupe from New Zealand performs only two more times at the Fringe: Monday, June 27, at 10:30 p.m., and Tuesday, June 28, at 9:00 p.m.

SD Fringe Festival: 1918 Samoan Dance

I don’t like to call a show a “must-see,” because what you must do is your own business. But 1918 is one of the best, most moving shows I’ve seen at all the various Fringe Festivals I’ve attended. It’s a must. Oh — and better get there early. There will be a line.

These days people swear they see signs and portents of the Last Judgment/Apocalypse. But if it were to come, why didn’t it in 1918? The world was at war for the first time. Famine ravaged the planet. And the wrongly named (since it may have originated in China, not Spain) Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918–1919 killed more people than the “Great War” — and even more than the bubonic plague of the 14th Century. Warships spread the virus.

On November 7, 1918, a cargo freighter from New Zealand pulled into Apia harbor on Upolu, second largest of the Samoan islands. The ship had been quarantined in Fiji. But passengers and crewmen came down with the virus onboard and were allowed to embark.

1918 begins earlier. Nine dancers flash back and forth across the stage. They hop and snap — often at 90-degree angles — and slap the floor to cries and shouts and beating drums: joy shimmers through their energy.


It’s daily life. Washing, singing, even a baby is born. Then we hear “God Save the Queen.” A ship’s horn sounds. “Ah, visitors!” you can feel the islanders saying, eager to greet their guests.

Within four weeks after the Talune anchored at Apia harbor, the influenza pandemic wiped out over 7500 Samoans. When it ended in 1919, between 22% and 25% of the Samoan population (an estimated 8500 people) had died. The world knew about the damage by then. Why weren’t the native Samoans informed?

The dancers make an astonishingly sudden, tragic shift from exuberance to puzzlement to recognition. Lives change forever in a heartbeat. What is choking them? What's yanking them down? Then they grieve, as piled corpses create a mound.

The piece doesn’t have a program. And maybe that’s for the best, since an exceptionally precise ensemble does the dances as one — all barefoot.

Tupe Lualua, who wrote and directed, got the idea for the piece from her grandmother, who was four when the pandemic hit the island. Lualua welcomes us in several languages and narrates the story in Samoan. “We speak all your languages,” she says, “but do you speak ours?”

Along with the horror of the pandemic, there’s also a local, onstage tragedy. When death comes, will Andy Faiaoga’s vibrant choreography die as well? It’s a kind of aesthetic loss. We grieve almost as if — when the company sings it — we, too, are poor, wayfaring strangers. Then the dancers, now in blue, spill out from the wings and perform with doubled intensity.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

La Jollan Andy Lakey's hyper real art

Mental health court, 29th & Imperial – our most dangerous corner, dating advice for singles, trying Phoenix in the summer, driving across Africa
Next Article

Nate Jarrell’s Carmel Valley classroom

The kids are all right at Canyon Crest Academy
After widespread death, blue dancers spill out from the wings and perform with doubled intensity.
After widespread death, blue dancers spill out from the wings and perform with doubled intensity.

Word-of-mouth moved fast for Le Moana’s amazing dance-theater piece about the outbreak of Spanish Influenza in Samoa, 1918. The Saturday afternoon show was packed. The troupe from New Zealand performs only two more times at the Fringe: Monday, June 27, at 10:30 p.m., and Tuesday, June 28, at 9:00 p.m.

SD Fringe Festival: 1918 Samoan Dance

I don’t like to call a show a “must-see,” because what you must do is your own business. But 1918 is one of the best, most moving shows I’ve seen at all the various Fringe Festivals I’ve attended. It’s a must. Oh — and better get there early. There will be a line.

These days people swear they see signs and portents of the Last Judgment/Apocalypse. But if it were to come, why didn’t it in 1918? The world was at war for the first time. Famine ravaged the planet. And the wrongly named (since it may have originated in China, not Spain) Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918–1919 killed more people than the “Great War” — and even more than the bubonic plague of the 14th Century. Warships spread the virus.

On November 7, 1918, a cargo freighter from New Zealand pulled into Apia harbor on Upolu, second largest of the Samoan islands. The ship had been quarantined in Fiji. But passengers and crewmen came down with the virus onboard and were allowed to embark.

1918 begins earlier. Nine dancers flash back and forth across the stage. They hop and snap — often at 90-degree angles — and slap the floor to cries and shouts and beating drums: joy shimmers through their energy.


It’s daily life. Washing, singing, even a baby is born. Then we hear “God Save the Queen.” A ship’s horn sounds. “Ah, visitors!” you can feel the islanders saying, eager to greet their guests.

Within four weeks after the Talune anchored at Apia harbor, the influenza pandemic wiped out over 7500 Samoans. When it ended in 1919, between 22% and 25% of the Samoan population (an estimated 8500 people) had died. The world knew about the damage by then. Why weren’t the native Samoans informed?

The dancers make an astonishingly sudden, tragic shift from exuberance to puzzlement to recognition. Lives change forever in a heartbeat. What is choking them? What's yanking them down? Then they grieve, as piled corpses create a mound.

The piece doesn’t have a program. And maybe that’s for the best, since an exceptionally precise ensemble does the dances as one — all barefoot.

Tupe Lualua, who wrote and directed, got the idea for the piece from her grandmother, who was four when the pandemic hit the island. Lualua welcomes us in several languages and narrates the story in Samoan. “We speak all your languages,” she says, “but do you speak ours?”

Along with the horror of the pandemic, there’s also a local, onstage tragedy. When death comes, will Andy Faiaoga’s vibrant choreography die as well? It’s a kind of aesthetic loss. We grieve almost as if — when the company sings it — we, too, are poor, wayfaring strangers. Then the dancers, now in blue, spill out from the wings and perform with doubled intensity.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Mission Bay starved for cash in wake of Covid-19

Financial watchdogs in the dark, under-staffed, audit says
Next Article

The Monroes reunion is for real this time

Reassembling a local 80s one-hit wonder
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close