By Ayaka Yamaguchi
With so many cultural dance shows on Guam, it’s hard to decide which one to see. Check out my review of the top five cultural dance shows on the island.
Fish Eye Polynesian Dinner Show
Surprise and even laughter will pull you into the dancers’ world. The whole show is the highlight.
Only 20 minutes from Tumon, you will enjoy the ocean view as you approach this coastal location. Once you step into the building, the dancers will invite you to take pictures with them. Every guidebook lists this Polynesian show as number one, as the dancers are put through a highly selective audition.
Mosquito spray is available when you walk in. I’ve rarely seen this kind of hospitality anywhere else (though I didn’t see a single mosquito).
The buffet is mainly seafood with sushi and local dishes like kelaguen and BBQ. There is a wide selection of dessert. The executive chef is Japanese with many years of experience in the food industry. I felt satisfied before the show even began.
The show starts with the rhythm of drums that get your heart pounding as dancers ride in on a large boat. The stage is theatre style and you feel like you are sitting outside on a private island. You’ll forget you’re indoors, feeling instead like you’re in a jungle surrounded by a river and waterfalls. You soon notice dancers coming towards the audience. The beat is very fast but the dancers are smiling warmly. I was in awe.
The Samoan ‘Slap Dance’ is both rhythmic and masculine.
Between the performances there’s time for audience participation. Lucky customers who are selected can even touch the fire. It was surprising and exhilarating at the same time.
At this point, the dancers have captivated our minds and hearts and they’re not tired yet.
One of the most popular items from Tahiti is a black pearl, a symbol for love and money. This custom captured my attention as very beautiful. I’m sure others fell in love with this romantic dance as well.
The success of the performance was evident when all the audience joined in the dancing as the evening concluded.
This show has been operated by the same dance group for 15 years. This is definitely the show you want to enjoy in a group or family.
Ask about the package deal that includes a snorkeling tour and entry to the Fish Eye observatory. Visit the Fish Eye website.
Westin Resort Starlight BBQ
Experienced dance troupe delivers authentic Tahitian show
This performance takes places in the middle of Tumon’s Pleasure Island, close to JP Superstore and DFS. You can reach this destination from your hotel in a matter of minutes. Near the beach and pool side, you can enjoy a beautiful sunset as well. Arrive a little early to enjoy the setting sun.
This dinner show is operated by a Tahitian group called Star of Tahiti. The owner of the show, Julian Tuiho, arrived on Guam in 1968 and, believe it or not, was the first to bring Polynesian dance to dinner shows on Guam. Young Pin is responsible for establishing the well-known BBQ dinner show at the now-closed Fujita Hotel.
All the dancers were trained by Tuiho’s wife, a pro Tahitian dancer. She traveled to Japan at 19, performing more than three shows per day (with little time to sleep). She eventually traveled the world as a dancer, inspiring people of all nationalities.
The daughter of Tuiho (pictured above left), is a bright spot in this fast-paced Tahitian performance. She is the winner of “Best Dancer” in the Tahitian festival called Heiva.
The spear dance originated in Tahiti and is an aggressive, masculine dance. This show is mainly composed of Tahitian music at incredible speeds. The scene changes at breakneck pace. The dancers exhibit abundant pride and spirit and they never slow down.
This is definitely a show you will not want to miss. The fire dancers are very dynamic. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Westin show is better than a Tahitian show in Tahiti.
Visit the Westin website.
Onward Beach Resort BBQ & Polynesian Dance Show
Fantastic poolside show in a casual and comfortable atmosphere for a relaxing evening
Onward Beach Resort on Agana Bay is just ten minutes away from Hotel Road. This hotel has an extensive water park, beach activities, and is popular with families.
One of the most fun attractions is the BBQ, where you can grill your own food. It’s all-you-can-eat and drink — perfect for energizing your body after days of beachgoing and shopping.
A three-piece band opens the show. The island/Hawaiian music is peppered with pop hits that everyone can sing along to. Popular musicians are gathered from international destinations and their talent and experience shows. Well-known local musicians include Shawn San Nicholas of Rebel Lion.
This show is very elegant, although the dance troupe numbers 10 or less — a small group compared to others. This is one of the best places to see hula dancing and the upbeat Tahitian dance, which is sure to quicken your pulse.
One of the unique features of this show is a Samoan children’s dance similar to patty cake. The audience participates by responding to commands. The slowest are eliminated. This sounds very simple, but it’s quite difficult and tons of fun to watch. The audience can’t help but roar in laughter at the spectacle of a man doing a woman’s dance. You’ve got to see it to believe it.
Next, female dancers enter the stage with fire poi balls. The lights are dimmed so you can see the fire reflected in the pool for a fantastic visual display.
As if awesome BBQ (which may entice you to overeat), melodic live music, and the heritage hula dance called Kahico aren’t enough, there is one more thing to excite you and that is the fire dance.
This fire dancer (pictured below) has won the fire dance competition on Guam for several successive years, which makes for a nearly flawless performance.
Enjoy the authentic Polynesian performance, which stays true to the culture, in a comfortable, intimate setting. Visit the Onward website.
Pacific Fantasies Dinner Show
Classy Chamorro cultural dance show has quality dancers and larger-than-life visuals
Image courtesy of PIC
Pacific Islands Club (PIC) is full of fun activities like slides, large kids pools, and lots of things to do for the family. The show follows form as a full theatre production.
Guam is part of Micronesia so this show focuses on authentic Chamorro dancing. Don’t be alarmed when dancers enter the audience to shake hands with nearly everyone. I felt honored to shake their hands before the show even started.
After the show starts, you may be surprised at how young the dancers are — some as young as 15 to 20. Both Chamorro and Polynesian culture are important to the owner of the dance group, who sees a bright professional future for his dancers.
The large scale drama unfolds atop cliffs surrounded by water with dancers carrying large torches. A river carries the dancers who float atop a wooden raft.
The dancing on the massive stage accompanied by music is an awe-inspiring, over-the-top experience. You may even tear up.
Mauri dance, which originates in New Zealand, is replicated both in performance and costume during the show. When the New Zealand football team wins they do the Kamate dance.
This dance with poi balls (sans fire) is culturally significant as a female dance. The large shell called a crown shell adds to the tropical mood and makes the whole evening feel like a step back in time.
The highlight you won’t want to miss is the biggest fire dance show on the island. All members of the troupe enter the stage for the final fire dance. This alone is worth the price of admission. The fire cuts the air audibly and you sense its heat. The audience was speechless at this point.
Huge rings of fire in this grand setting and quality Chamorro dance makes this a must-see on Guam.
Visit the PIC website.
Hilton Tropics BBQ
Dynamic, serious performances inspire audiences with spiritual Polynesian storytelling
The Red Trolley makes Hilton Guam Resort and Spa accessible in 10 minutes or less from any Tumon hotel. You’ll feel like a celebrity when dining at this 5-star resort.
The poolside Tree Bar is packed every night with an international crowd. The buffet line reminds me of a Hawaiian luau. Enjoy the buffet style dinner with the ocean breeze and the sounds of many dialects in the background. You will feel every bit of your tropical island vacation in this venue before the show even begins.
Musicians on the left of the stage start the show by playing rare instruments like a Toele, a Polynesian drum with a high sound. Uniquely-shaped ukuleles rarely seen are also played. The costumes are memorable, with colorful costume changes occurring at every new song.
The highlight of the show is that you can intimately experience the Polynesian culture.
Storytelling is very evident in this show. For example, a knife dance shows the utility of the instrument, but also the beauty in dance. Coconut carving is shared with kids after it is grated live on stage. Polynesian cultures have long used coconut gratings for food with the shell being used as a dish. Experience ancient lifestyles through dance. The couple dance shows how older generations expressed their love for each other.
You can’t help being captivated by this show even before the fire dance starts. The open space invites a cool breeze during a hot fire performance.
The fire dancers control the fire as if by remote, being so skilled that they make it look effortless. The fire dance sticks can be used in a variety of ways. Even a hooked iron knife is lit and wielded skillfully as two knives are linked together to form a large burning ring. Your pulse will quicken at first sight, but don’t worry as these dancers are incredibly skilled.
The night ends with audience participation, which is both funny and educational as the Toele is explained. See true Polynesian culture and heritage at this hot show.
Visit the Hilton website.
A native of Japan, Ayaka arrived on Guam in 2000. Born in Osaka, and raised in Tokyo, Ayaka fell in love with Guam’s gorgeous beaches and island hospitalty. Working in the hotel and tourism industry full-time, Ayaka enjoys relating her love of the island as a weekend blogger. It is her goal to share valuable insider tips with every Japanese person interested in Guam.