It’s Cook Islands Language Week and we’re celebrating by sharing a little about some of the inspirational Cook Islanders featured in my book Cook Islands Heroes. The aim of this book is to inspire Kuki Airani young people and anyone else who loves reading stories of people who overcame great challenges to achieve their goals in life.
Today’s Cook Islands Hero is Michael Metuakore.
Michael (Mangaia, Rarotonga, Palmerston, Penrhyn) knows why dance is an important part of Cook Islands culture – he loves to dance too. He’s a backup dancer for one of the most popular entertainers in the world – Jennifer Lopez.
Michael grew up in Tokoroa and like lots of his friends, he played rugby and rugby league. But dancing was always his first love. He would travel to Auckland to audition for dance groups, then race home to be on time for his job working in a bakery. “It was hard going but if you want it bad, you’ll work hard to achieve it,” he says.
In 2012, the legendary Parris Goebel asked him to dance for the Royal Family. That’s when Michael’s life changed in ways he could never imagine. He won a gold medal at the World Hip Hop Championships and got to perform in the dance film, Born to Dance. But none of that compares to what he does now … dancing with JLo at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Michael had to beat 700 dancers to win that job! Michael’s philosophy is simple: “If you want it, you have to make it work,” he says. “No excuses.”
Want to read about more Cook Islands achievers like Michael? Check out Cook Islands Heroes, available now!