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Saipan Tribune: NMC summer campers learn traditional dances (July 25, 2019)

Participants in the Northern Marianas College Project PROA program’s Summer Bridge Camp were introduced to traditional Chamorro dances by the Simiyan Manianata group at NMC’s library last July 15.

That means they had to learn how to dance traditional dances.

Rep. Luis John DLG Castro (R-Saipan), the creative director Simiyan Manianata, was impressed by the participants’ enthusiasm throughout the entire session and the diverse mix of students that participated.

Castro was equally amazed at his student performers as their first-ever time to teach students outside of the group the ways of traditional Chamorro dancing and chanting.

Castro was also happy to see that participants of different ethnicities eagerly learning about the Chamorro culture.

He said that Project PROA program coordinator Malyssa Castro approached him and asked if the group can teach the camp participants some dance steps and chants. “We were most happy to oblige, because we try to promote to our kids… to be proud of their indigenous backgrounds,” he said.

The primary focus of the one-day session was the fast-paced dances, coordination with dances and music, and getting participants out of their comfort zones.

According to the NMC’s website, Project PROA aims to improve and expand the capacity of indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian students on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota by increasing the number and proportion of those who enroll and graduate on time at NMC.

Simiyan Manianata is a non-profit organization that promotes the uniqueness of Chamorro culture through performing arts. It is now about five years old. The group has performed in village fiestas, school exhibitions, and popular island events like the International Festival of Cultures. Castro said that some of the group’s alumni have participated in events outside of Saipan such as the Tumon Bay Music Festival.

Castro said the group will be celebrating its fifth anniversary this August. The group currently has about 18 members and hopes to get more in the future.

He also hopes that the group can secure a permanent practice facility as the group has been using areas around to island to conduct dance practices. He thanked all of those in the community that opened their doors to help them out.

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