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.
Juliet OmliCawas Cheatle
Myla Bagasbas Marrinier
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.
Juliet Omli-Cawas Cheatle
Juliet Omli Cawas Cheatle is the director and choreographer of the Filipinas Performing Arts of Washington State (FPAWS) and the dance instructor and choreographer of the Filipino Community of Seattle (FCS) Kalahi Philippines Dance Company. In brief, Juliet can be described as a cultural worker, community organizer, choreographer, dance instructor, and a performing artist of traditional Philippine dances, and a resource person in numerous workshops on Philippine culture and traditions, focusing on the indigenous culture and traditions, music, and dances of the Northern Philippines and of the Southern Philippines.
With a trove of knowledge and expertise, Juliet has become a sought-after figure in state and national cultural scenes. She has presented in various events in Washington, such as, in Everett, Mount Vernon, La Connor, and Seattle, among others. Outside of her home state of Washington, Juliet has engaged in various cultural events in San Francisco, St. Louis, Anchorage, Barrow, Albuquerque, San Diego, Maui, New York, Los Angeles, and San Jose. In the international scene, she was invited to either perform or conduct a dance workshop in Vancouver, New Westminster, Vernon, Vancouver Island, Edmonton, Canada as well as in Peru, Japan, Philippines, and Costa Rica.
Juliet has brought home awards and recognitions for FPAWS as well as for herself. With her exceeding talent and expertise on indigenous dances, she has contributed success to other dance groups by either providing instructions or performing with the group. In most of her presentations and workshops, she collaborates with various Filipino organizations as well as with other ethnic groups.
As a full-blooded Kalinga whose parents came from the towns of Lubuagan and Pasil, Juliet was raised and nurtured in the rich Kalinga traditional values and ways of life. As a young girl, she found endless fascination with the traditional folk dances, the 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, with a lot of guidance from the elders. She came under the 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, and abroad. Most recently, she was 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 one of the selected performing artists invited in a dance workshop and performance at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC. Juliet is a regular lecturer and dance performer for the Northwest Folklife Festival and World Dance Party, Seattle. She has been a long time mentor and choreographer of the United Filipino Club of Seattle University.
Her mentors and advisers include Mr. Rudi Soriano – Director/Choreographer of LIKHA Ensemble; the late Mr. Danongan Kalanduyan – Kulintang Master Artist and Director of Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemble, Titania Buchholdt – Kulintang music practitioner and Director of Mindanao Lilang Lilang/Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemble. Her passion and daily inspiration is to make the Filipino folk dances and music as part of our modern life.
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