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FAAP Dance Troupe History

FAAP Dance Troupe History: It’s Past, Present and Future

The year was 1964. The Beatles took the U.S. by storm with “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a War on Poverty. Muhammad Ali TKO’ed Sonny Liston for heavyweight boxing title. Sean Connery started the first day of shooting for “Goldfinger”. In Pittsburgh, the Samahang Pilipino ng Pittsburgh (SPNP) was formally organized. While a group of Filipino and American students, doctors and Pittsburgh residents had been participating in the annual International Folk Festival for several years, 1964 marked the first official performance of the SPNP Dance Troupe. Today, in the year 2014, the Filipino American Association of Pittsburgh (FAAP) Dance Troupe, continuing in the footsteps of the SPNP Dance Troupe, proudly celebrates its 50th anniversary. The folk dancers and instructors have come and gone, graduated, raised families, and moved to all corners of the world. The Troupe’s mission, however, remains constant: to promote Filipino culture through music and dance, participating in countless events in the region, including West Virginia, Ohio, New York and Washington.

The FAAP Dance Troupe highlights its year-long celebration with a grand opening recital titled “PARANGAL: a Tribute to the Past, a Gift for the Future”. There will be other performances throughout the year, and the FAAP and the Dance Troupe will be paying tribute to all those who came before them – dancers, teachers, choreographers, supportive parents and members. Without them, the Dance Troupe would not have been able to continue promoting the Filipino culture. We welcome them home, in person and in spirit, for all they have done to keep our culture alive.

Presently, we have 45 members, encompassing a vast range of ages. For the past several years, participation has exclusively consisted of youth. This year, we are grateful to have the participation of many adults • The dance troupe meets almost every Sunday throughout the year at the Homeville Christian Church, thanks to the generosity of our members, Pastor Dave Shively and his wife, Carmen • Within the past 12 months, the dance troupe has performed at various cultural events, to name a few: Philippine Independence Day Parade at New York City, Pittsburgh First Night at the August Wilson Center, Celebrate Pittsburgh (formerly, Pittsburgh Folk Festival), Annual Festival of Nations at Weirton, WV, Carnegie Library’s World Kaleidoscope, McKeesport’s International Village Festival, and Cheerathon at Pittsburgh Marathon • We are utterly blessed with the talent and discipline of our Choreographer, Lilian Stefanick, as well as our Instructors, Kiana DelGrosso, PJ Rethage, and Jae Villao.

What lies ahead for the FAAP Dance Troupe? A bright future, a promise of new dances and music, colorful and authentic costumes and props, many of them directly acquired from the Philippines. We welcome with grateful hearts and joyful voices the influx of new and old dancers who continue to energize, renew and refresh our cultural offerings.

By Cynthia Calejesan