For some teens, cultural dancing has become an important aspect to their effort to connect with their CHamoru culture.
Additionally, it's an opportunity to share their legacy with others who are not CHamoru so they can learn about the indigenous culture of the island they call home, said Anissa Cruz, a John F. Kennedy High School sophomore.
She and fellow Islander sophomore Reea Jennae Tyquiengco, and Lauren Quenga, a Simon Sanchez High School sophomore, are part of local cultural dance groups.
Cruz recently joined Guma' Mahiga, saying since she's joined, she's been motivated to learn more about CHamoru traditions.
“Many things have changed about me since I started dancing. My CHamoru pride has really increased. Another thing that changed is my desire to get more involved in the cultural movement. The culture and language is dying and I want to do something about it. I want to somehow serve a purpose to my people,” Cruz said.
“I believe that cultural dancing will help teens on Guam by inspiring them to get more involved with the culture as it did with me. I believe that it will inspire them to learn about the culture and how to speak the language, maybe even teach it. When I started dancing it was not my intention to make it such a big part of my life. But I fell in love with the culture and I am now willing to put my past dreams aside and do something that serves a purpose to the Chamorro people. Hopefully dancing will inspire other teens as much as it has inspired me,” Cruz added.
Two years ago, in 2017, Quenga saw dancers perform and was entranced with the beauty of their movements and song. Today, she is a big sister to cultural dancers in her cultural dance group Guma’ Kinalamten I Taotao Tano.
She said constantly hearing the chants and the CHamoru language helps her keep in touch with her roots.
“Cultural dancing helped me connect to my culture more by giving me a space where I can completely immerse myself in it. I feel that because of my consistency as a dancer, regularly singing our songs, chanting our chants, and dancing and practicing our traditions, have all made me feel more in tune and connected with my culture,” Quenga said.
A link to ancestors
Tyquiengco's immersion into performing arts started last August.
“Cultural dancing helped me connect with my culture by allowing me to portray my ancestors and get an idea of how life was back then through song and dance,” she said.
She also shared that the best thing about dancing is sharing her culture through the engaging process of song and dance.