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Guam Represents Oceania in European Folkdance Festivals

In recent festivals crowded with vibrant cultural attire, a group filled with CHamoru pride traveled across Europe, visiting Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey to represent Oceania’s song and dance.

Guma’ Råsan Åcho’ Latte, under the direction and leadership of Fafa’nå’gue, Saina Brian “BJ” Terlaje, brought Guam’s culture to Europe, capturing audiences with the island’s music and achieving second place at one of the three international festivals attended during the tour.

The group attended three festivals: the Vitosha International Folkdance Competition in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital; the Magic of Mezdra International Invitational Folkdance Festival, held in the north of Bulgaria; and the 24th İnternational İstanbul Büyükçekmece Culture and Art Festival held in Istanbul, Turkey. The group was among the most elite folk dance groups from all over the world, according to Terlaje.

After attending their second event, the Magic of Mezdra International Invitational Folkdance Festival, the team traveled throughout Greece, stopping by historic places including Thessaloniki, Athens, Delphi and Katerini.

The final stop was in Istanbul, Turkey, to participate in the 24th International Istanbul Büyükçekmece Culture and Art Festival. One hundred countries from across the globe showcased their dances, music and art, with Guam as the only group representing Oceania.

Terlaje stressed the significance of Guam gaining recognition and performing internationally.

“Twenty-four years ago, I could only dream of traveling to the other side of the world and showcasing who we are as a CHamoru people through our songs and dances,” he stated. “This experience has made it much more than just a reality. It has given me so much inspiration to continue learning and teaching our traditions and practices to those who would like to learn and listen.”

The team members also enjoyed immersing themselves in the different cultures of professional folk dancers.

“It was an overwhelming experience to be able to see and be among some of the best dancers in the world,” said Raymond Lujan, a teacher from Guma’ Nina’en Åcho’ Latte. “Although millions of miles divide us, the love of dance and our culture connected us.”

Source: Post Guam