Next up in the Meet the Ensemble Series is one of my favorite dancers from Samahan Filipino American Performing Arts and Education Center: Reina Chiong-Quenaon. She is pictured here.
Reina comes from a family of dancers. Her mother, Ruby Pearl Chiong, was a dancer with Far Eastern University Dance Troupe in the Philippines and in 1975 joined Samahan as choreographer, dancer and teacher. Auntie Rubie is still the choreographer to this day. Reina and her sister JD have been Samahan dancers since about 1989 and have trained under both their mother and Samahan’s founder, Dr. Lolita Carter.
Training under my mother was different from Dr. Carter. Although they both had the same high expectation, they taught very different[ly]. My mom was very patient and laid back. She danced side by side in order to ensure the student understood.
Dr. Carter focused on discipline and technique and was not afraid to correct and criticize. Dr. Carter left a very lasting impression on everyone she taught/knew and… molded me as a dancer and a professional. She taught me discipline and respect – something I hope to teach my children and future dancers of Samahan.
Samahan boasts a varied repertoire and so I asked Reina, if she had to pick only one, which was her favorite. The answer: the “Rural Suite.” If you’ve ever been to Samahan’s Gala or Festival, both held annually, you would probably agree. The Rural Suite mimics the simple day to day life of farmers and the Philippine countryside and includes tinikling, one of the most well-known of Philippine dances.
I enjoy the liveliness and colorful costumes. Our older audience can relate to the rural suite and [it] brings back memories for their life in the Philippines. I enjoy the festivals and showing that the most simple games were the most fun.
As wikipedia succinctly put it,
The tinikling is a pre-Spanish dance from the Philippines that involves two people beating, tapping, and sliding bamboo poles on the ground and against each other in coordination with one or more dancers who step over and in between the poles in a dance.
Music and dance – these are things by which many Filipino-Americans connect with their heritage because they are passed down from generation to generation. Filipino-Americans have a high rate of assimilation in the U.S. and fluency in Tagalog and other Filipino dialects tends to be lost among second- and third-generation.
Thank you again for your time Reina!