I have to write more about this at some point. It is interesting because for so many Chamorros, their self-perceptions are mired in feelings that we have nothing (especially in cultural terms) and that no one would every want anything that we have anyways. It is intriguing then to see how popular Chamorro style dance is at conventions like this, and to consider that there are multiple Chamorro dance groups in Japan and the United States.
From the Guam Visitors Bureau
Led by Master Frank Rabon, nearly 100 Japanese dancers from the Guam Chamorro Dance Academy (GCDA) performed to thousands of consumers on the Guam stage, as well as on JATA’s main stage. GCDA is a program that was started by the Guam Visitors Bureau in 2009 to teach interested Japanese people the art of traditional Chamorro dance. Since the program began, Rabon has taught over 1,500 students in over six cities in Japan, including Tokyo and Nagoya. The program has also expanded to the U.S. mainland this year.
“They’ve enjoyed it. Every time I come over here, there’s always an addition to the numbers that are coming in to learn. It amazes me because they really don't have to learn our culture. They have their own culture. They’re Japanese. But they really want to learn,” said Master Frank Rabon. “A lot of them travel to Guam after getting a little bit of the practices. They get the interest to travel to Guam and they stay a little longer. They take in not just the beaches and the sights and the hospitality of the island, but they also take in the culture, which is something that is unique to us.”
“We want to thank Japan for welcoming us and embracing the Håfa Adai spirit, especially through the Guam Chamorro Dance Academy,” said GVB Deputy General Manager Nate Denight. “Team Guam has worked hard these last few weeks to share our island’s story with the international community. It’s definitely important for us to continue placing our Chamorro culture, I Kottura-ta, at the forefront of JATA because it has drawn millions of people for over 20 years to visit and learn more about Guam.”
To add to the island’s unique appeal at JATA, the Guam booth also featured the Håfa Adai Chamorro Dance Show, a Chamorro Craft School, a Miss Guam photo session and presentations by several island businesses that are part of Team Guam. Furthermore, consumers were very eager to find out more information on the Dusit Thani Resort Guam, Lotte Hotel/ Lotte Duty Free, United, Skydive Guam, JCB International Micronesia/Shift Guam and the Pleasure Island Group (T Galleria by DFS, Outrigger, the Plaza, Sea Grill, Sky Lounge, Hard Rock Guam, SandCastle and Mandara Spa).
The JATA Tourism EXPO Japan concluded today, but Team Guam’s efforts continue with the mission to make the island a better place to live, work and visit.