CALIFORNIA, USA – Clad in vibrant color of costumes bespoken to express the Filipino culture and heritage, the performers of the famed Leyte Dance Theater of Jess De Paz Foundation Inc. (LDT) stole the hearts of the spectators of their shows in their two-and-a-half month’s stint in the United States of America.

The Proclamation passed by the governing body of Tallahassee, Florida signed by Mayor John Dailey.

Their US tour called “Padayaw” short for Padayon Pagsayaw: The USA Tour 2023, their first since 2018, was also made part of the 12th Annual East Valley Filipino Festival in Chandler, Arizona celebrating the 125th Philippine Independence Day in said state. It ran from May till early July, mesmerizing guests and audience, especially when they got invited to dance upstage the traditional Filipino courtship dance or “Kuracha”.

LDT of Jess De Paz Foundation president Lowe Taña along with Charmel dela Cruz of the Filipino Festival in an appearance at a Filipino Channel in Arizona.

Among the states the LDT performed in the USA were New Jersey, Washington DC, Virginia, North Carolina, Connecticut, Florida, Texas, and California. Their spectators weren’t just the Fil-Ams in the state but those belonging to other races.

Philippine Deputy Consul-General Adrian Cruz of New York at the performance of LDT in New Jersey.

Such diversity in the racial spectrum did not seem to alter the guests and spectators’ cheers and applause to the performances of Eastern Visayas’ very own cultural dance troupe.

Lowe Taña, president of LDT of Jess de Paz Foundation Inc., described their tour shows as a “breathtaking experience”, giving him a “sense of being free and independent because this is the first time of travel without Sir Jess.”

LDT Choreographer Jerry Mores in one of LDT’s shows in the USA.

Leading a group of 18 dancers and three staff, was not a simple walk in the park for him.
From the time they conceived this plan for a US tour till they finally stepped on the land of milk and honey, the LDT leaders have gotten off a rough sail through the rapids.
Since the inception of LDT, one name has been ingrained in its existence, the late dance guru Jess de Paz. He has showcased the culture of Eastern Visayas to the whole world by way of aesthetic dance performances.

A free dance tutorial conducted by LDT to residents of Tallahessee, Florida.

Taña now assumes the responsibility to lead since the demise of the legendary organizer of LDT.

“After the artistic director, choreographer, and founder of the LDT Jess de Paz passed away last September 28, 2018 and the studio got burned from a fire last November 13, 2018, we planned after pandemic the US travel.”

It took the LDT one year to prepare the grand plan. And blessing came this year, the visa for the whole dance troupe was granted.

However, the plan was not easy does it to put into fruition.

“We encountered a lot of challenges of this travel financially, airline, etcetera,” adding, “We were able to overcome those with the help of LDT alumni and sponsors.”

Among those institutions that greatly supported the LDT’s Padayaw were St. Paul School of Professional Studies, Eastern Visayas State University and Leyte Normal University and Leyeco II. Individuals who assisted them significantly are numerous to name coming from the cross section of society, so to speak.

Taña attributed mainly the success of the Padayaw US Tour 2023 to the Filipino-American community they met, the sponsors, benefactors, and definitely the excellent performances of the dance troupe.

Indeed, these performances earned raves from various audiences.

In LDT’s social media site, California Commissioner of Library and Education Ana Rita Reyes congratulated the LDT “for the best performances of our dancers from the Philippines that I ever watched in my entire life”.

She added, “I am so happy and proud that I’m Filipino American Commissioner that I could (be) able to witness these incredible dance performances in honor to our Filipino culture, heritage, and roots.”

“You did an amazing job to show the world the beautiful Filipino folk dance and show,” she remarked further.

Another netizen Gladys Portillo stated in her post, “I have never witnessed more talented and amazing performers.” Portillo identified herself as an alumni of LDT.

In a decree signed by Mayor John Dailey, the Governing Body of the City of Tallahassee (Florida) proclaimed June 3, 2023 as the Leyte Dance Theater Day in recognition of LDT’s being one of the best cultural ambassadors from the Philippines.

An photo from one of the performances of LDT in USA.

The Proclamation encouraged the citizens “to celebrate the diversity of cultures, the breadth of achievements and remarkable contributions of the Leyte Dance Theater from Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines.”

Besides doing stage performances, the LDT conducted dance tutorials for free.
On July 27, the LDT, according to Taña, will be performing in Palo at the opening events for the fiesta of Palo in August.

The LDT is being choreographed now by Jerry Mores, who in his social media page gave the group’s acronym a definition Legacy, Dedication, and Triumph.