Top Row (Left to Right): Veronica Gatmaitan, Celine Luna, Jerieca Marie Gatmaitan (MJ), Realyn Jaban Dacut-Pickles, Johanna Creer, Mervin Madrid, Richu John Kung, Gerie Gatmaitan, Joshua Miguel Vicente, Patrick Irving Susas, Judie Marie Gabuya, Shrusha Raghubansi, Dixie Frances Morante Bottom Row (Left to Right): Andrea Ramos, Gabrielle Anne Newbery, Sheila Florendo, Xavielle Moreno, Ruby Dangpilen, Sugar Kaye Grefaldeo, Myla Jean Florendo, Kate Cambiel Torres, Margarita Eriksen, Maria Janice McEwan, Michelle Lopez
Our talented choreographers
As a mother of three, realtor, and President of the Filipino-Australian Brisbane Society (FABS), Dixie Morante demonstrates that with passion and commitment, anything is possible. She is able to juggle all these responsibilities while simultaneously creating a space for us at Hiraya to learn more about our culture, develop our skills as artists, and be proud of our identity as Filipinos in Australia.
After Dixie left the Philippines, she wanted to give back to the community, particularly to Filipinos who yearned to be reconnected with their cultural heritage. So she and the rest of FABS have decided to run workshops to educate and properly train present and future generations of Filipino-Australians in the art of Philippine folk dance and music. The launch of Hiraya Performing Artists is the fruit of her hardwork and patience.
From dancing on the streets of Manila to performing internationally, Sugar is always learning and growing as a student, a dancer and a teacher – all for the love of the Performing Arts! Dancing saved her life and has inspired her to become an Artistic director! Sugar knows that dancing can change people’s lives, and this drives her passion in helping others learn and experience dance in different ways!
Sugar teaches Hip Hop in Brisbane at the Y.C.V studio, she is a part of a multicultural dance company, NUDO and now, also a choreographer of the Hiraya Performing Artists! She looks forward to sharing the beauty of the Filipino culture around Australia through cultural workshops for everyone to learn and enjoy!
Andrea Ramos has been dancing since she was four. Initially, dancing was just a hobby for her, but it eventually turned into passion as she began to appreciate different styles of dancing. Among the various dance genres Andrea has explored, Philippine folk dance is one that has given her new opportunities for growth and learning. Before coming to Australia, Andrea got into the Philippine High School for the Arts’ scholarship program majoring in Folk Dance. This allowed her to better learn and appreciate the traditions and cultures of the various ethnic groups around the Philippines. Now, as part of Hiraya Performing Artists, Andrea is able to share her skills and experiences, not just to members of the Filipino community, but also to the rest of Australia.
Being a passionate performer and an inspiration to his peers is what Patrick Susas, dancer, choreographer, athlete, and student, is known for. He was a member of three different dance groups in the Philippines (the FEU Dance Company, Stump, and Rookies N’ Dream) and he was also fortunate to have performed internationally! According to him, it was dance that “rescued” his life. Growing up in the slums was not easy but instead of straying off, Patrick chose to embrace the life of a performer – he has instilled hope in some people and helped them make positive changes in their lives.
Michelle’s continuing passion for dancing and learning has inspired her to immerse herself in the Philippine’s rich culture and indigenous dances. Aside from Philippine folk dancing, Michelle has extensive experience and training in different dance genres such as modern jazz, ballroom. Michelle wishes to share her talents with her fellow Filipinos as she believes that Philippine folk dances should be embraced and shared for generations to come.
Eric Solano – Virtual trainer
Eric Solano is a respected leader in the field of Philippine folkloric dance in the USA. He founded Parangal Dance Company in 2008 to advance and promote Philippine culture and dance. He continues to serve as its researcher, artistic director and choreographer.
Central to Solano’s artistic practice is the building of authentic relationships with culture bearers over time. He has created thirteen new works under the guidance of culture bearers from the Maguindanao, Kalinga, Ta’u Sug, Meranao, and Yakan. Solano creates the essence of tribal village for the proscenium stage with a narrative rooted in myths, daily life, rituals, dance and music.