Diaspora Entertainment News

Leyte theater group winds up US tour in Los Angeles and San Jose

By Abner Galino

Members of the Leyte Dance Theater pose with Los Angeles community leaders and members of the media during a meet and greet at the Filipino Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Photo © Pol Joaquin

THE exceptional Leyte Dance Theater is winding up its 8th US tour via a twin performance in California, particularly in Los Angeles and San Jose.

Since April, the Leyte Dance Theater had performed in the states of New York, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, Texas and Arizona.

“The motto of our dance company is: The last performance is always the best. So we’re making sure that the next performance that’s going to happen here is better than the last one that we had,” said Jess de Paz, LDT founder and its artistic director and choreographer.

The Leyte Dance Theater has just provided a foretaste of their upcoming show titled “Salida – Simbolo at Kultura” on May 26 at the Marsee Auditorium (16007 Crenshaw Boulevard, Torrance).

Paz and his theater group met with the members of the media and community leaders at the Filipino Cultural Center at 1740 W Temple Street, Los Angeles last Tuesday.

The group was accompanied by producer, community leader and fitness guru Nonie Belarmino of the iDance Studio in the City of Carson.

Paz narrated that the members of the theater group got into a “challenging” situation shortly after they arrived in New York.

Masyadong malamig. Kaya marami nagkasakit sa mga dancers. But as expected of them, they delivered. We went on with the show,” Paz narrated, stressing not only the dedication of the members of the cast but as well as their resilience.

The artists are mostly residents of Tacloban City in the province of Leyte. A couple of years back, the said city was devastated by a powerful storm.

Paz recalled how the future of LDT hanged in limbo months after the storm.

“I myself lost two of my houses. I wasn’t able to recover those losses up to now,” Paz narrated.

According to him, the members of the theater group lost communications with each other for some time because they fled the city and did not return until some normalcy was restored.

The LDT has been in an “artistic pursuit since 25 years ago.”“The LDT today is a handiwork of its founder, Jess de Paz, who never stopped training and learning under the hands of local and foreign masters. His scholarship to the Joffrey School of Ballet in New York and his representing the “Study of ASEAN-sponsored “Study of Traditional Dance, Music and Choreography” in Thailand, widened his teaching and choreographic interest,” says an LDT brochure.

The programs of LDT includes: free training for poor but talented dance enthusiasts in numerous dance forms (folk, ballet, contemporary, jazz and creative dance); performances in local, national and international events; conducting seminar-workshops for teachers, dance students and children; spearheading festival dance development in Region 8 through consultancies, dance tutorials, and workshops; developing programs funded by cultural institutions for dance development in the region.”

This year’s cast and crew of the LDT’s US tour are Lowe S. Tana, Romyr Gabon, Nielrex Castil, Duane Robet Abit, Matheo Federico Badaran, Joel Badion, Arnold Calo, Gerardo Canete Jr., Archie Gayon, Marboy Guiroy, Peter Paul Maneja, Ana Victoria Diaz, Ma. Babette Jeds Llorada, Savea Fise Baac, Jana Rae Babalcon, Charmaine Marisse Comendador, Giea Gay Severino, Pamela Tisha Tindugan, Pearly Dawn Tindugan, Maryan Mendano and Mae Nicole Nicolas.

Abner Galino
The author is a poet and a writer. He was a cultural worker before he became a reporter for Tinig ng Masa and Malaya Midday Edition during the Marcos regime. He later became a reporter of People's Tonight shortly after 1986 EDSA Revolution. He went on to become its Chief of Reporters, City Editor and News Editor. He retired after 15 years in the Journal Group of Publications. He now writes for Weekend Balita and the US Asian Post (USAP), weekly Filipino-American newspapers based in Los Angeles, California.

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