Filipinas Performing Arts of Washington State
by Juliet Omli Cawas Cheatle
The Filipinas Performing Arts of Washington State (FPAWS) is a cultural group that nurtures awareness and appreciation of various Filipino cultures and traditions in the community, sustained by committed and professional cultural workers. Founded in 1993 under the name, Children of Fil-Am Dance Ensemble and later changed its name to The Filipinas Performing Arts of Washington State or FPAWS in September 2001.
Under the direction of dancer / choreographer Juliet Omli-Cawas Cheatle, the 25 and more members present a number of performances, lectures, and workshops each year in Washington State, other states, and in Canada. One of its goals is to collect, preserve, perform, and express in art forms the way of life of the Filipino people. FPAWS’ repertoire ranges from traditional dances to contemporary dances using music that are composed and recorded by local musicians here and in the Philippines.
Photo by: Susan Fried
The FPAWS shall showcase the various dances, costumes, music and songs of the Philippines’ indigenous communities through authentic and contemporary performances and cultural learning workshops in order to preserve and further strengthen the pride of the Filipino American community. FPAWS will strive to present Filipino folk dance in its traditional form and to educate Fil-Am’s younger generation in an era where authentic steps and movements are modernized and are forgotten. FPAWS is also designed to give its members the opportunity to express themselves artistically and explore their passion for dance as a visual form.
Pagdiriwang Festival 2023 "Keeping Traditional Bangsamoro Music and Dance Alive" performances by: Juiet OmliCawas Cheatle, choreographer, with Maya Manzano, Juliet Mae Saberon Dacut, Kelly Singleterry, Michelle Cabrera, and Marie Dela Cruz, Manager
Juliet Omli-Cawas Cheatle
Juliet Omli Cawas Cheatle, Director and Choreographer of the Filipinas Performing Arts of Washington State (FPAWS), is a cultural worker, community organizer, choreographer, dance instructor, and a performing artist. Aside from being a performing artist of traditional Philippine dances, Juliet is also a resource person on Filipino culture, tradition and arts, as well as a presenter/lecturer in numerous workshops dealing with her specialty on indigenous cultures, arts, music and dances of the northern Philippines.
With such a treasure trove of knowledge and expertise, Juliet has become well-known within Washington State and national cultural scenes where she has presented in large venues in Washington, such as, in Everett, Mount Vernon, La Connor and Seattle Center, among others. Outside of her home state of Washington, she has also presented in San Francisco, St. Louis, Anchorage, Albuquerque, San Diego, and New York. Internationally, she has been invited to Vancouver, New Westminster, Vernon and Vancouver Island in BC, Canada, Trujillo, Peru, and Hawaii.
Some of the events were competitions in which FPAWS and/or Juliet garnered several awards and accolades. Juliet has contributed to the success of other groups where she performed as a guest performing artist. In most of her presentations and workshops, she collaborated with various prestigious Filipino organizations, other art and culture events, as well as other ethnic groups.
As a full-blooded Kalinga, whose parents came from the villages of Lubuagan and Guinaang, Juliet was raised and nurtured in Kalinga traditional values and ways of life. She grew up playing with the village children in the rice fields and mountain farms among carabaos, pigs and chickens as friends. As a young girl, she found endless fascination with the traditional folk dances - Kalinga tribal music and dances as well as the music and dances of surrounding tribal groups of Bontoc, Ifugao, Benguet, Abra and Apayao.
Juliet was a good student of indigenous cultural dances through personal observation or being a part of the villages’ actual rituals and celebrations, as well as learning from the older folks. She came under the personal and expert tutelage of Kalinga’s master artist and historian, Mr. Cirilo Sapi Bawer who was her teacher and who remains to this day as her adviser and personal friend. She also received formal instructions in Filipino folk dances from her teacher, Ms. Asuncion Cardinal at St. Theresita’s School in Lubuagan, Kalinga.
Juliet continues to imbibe knowledge through research, exchange programs, and conducting workshops in collaboration with other cultural dance choreographers and groups in the USA, Canada and Philippines. Juliet has been invited as a guest and observer of the Merrie Monarch festival in Hilo, Hawaii. She was also invited by Founder/Director of Worldwide Indigenous Science Network (WISN) Maui, Hawaii for dialogue and exploratory conversation about how to support the indigenous cultural practitioners in the Cordilleras, Philippines.
As a civic leader, this year is Juliet’s second term as the President of the Kalingas – North American Network (KaNA). Most recently, she was invited to perform, together with FPAWS at the Central Washington University. She has been a long time mentor and choreographer of student organizations at Seattle University.
On June 16, 2017, Juliet was chosen as a member of a panel discussion on Race, Identity and Culture Pacific Northwest organized by the Festal Program of Seattle Center, Seattle Art Museum, and the Seattle Public Library. She was also a panel member on August 10 of the same year with the same topic of discussion. With her broad knowledge and experience on authentic music and dances of the various ethnic tribal dances of the Philippines, she was invited by the San Francisco Kulintang Legacy as a performing artist and a participant in a dance workshop at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival last June 29-July 4 and July 6-9, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Her mentors and advisers include Mr. Rudi Soriano - Director/Choreographer of LIKHA Folk Ensemble; Mr. Marshall Agwilang Wandag - Kalinga Elder; Mr. Anderson Dulnuan Tuguinay - Ifugao Elder; the late Mr. Danongan Kalanduyan - Master artist and Director of Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemble, and many others. Her passion and daily inspiration is to make the Pilipino folk dances and music a part of our modern life. Juliet is currently working for an Aviation Consulting Corporation as a business manager. She has two sons, Matthew and Craig.
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