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Guam represented well in European dance competitions

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An award-winning performing arts group from Guam will be venturing off to Europe to compete in two international folk dance competitions. This summer, Guam will represent the Pacific Region at two invite-only dance competitions in Turkey and Romania.

Inetnon Gef Pago national folkdance director Vince Reyes told KUAM News, "It started off last year when we went to a five-week tour in Europe last year. We started in Slovenia and ended in France. Both Slovenia and France were major festivals; that kind of got us invited to go into Istanbul."

The Buyukcekmece Culture and Art Festival in Istanbul, Turkey was voted the World's Best Festival in 2010 and 2011 by the Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Art. Guam's Inetnon Gef Pago - a local award-winning performance art group - will compete there alongside 24 countries including China and Brazil before also competing at the International Folk Festival in Romania.

"It started off as just a simple class at Inarajan Middle School and now has grown into a great institution," Reyes added. "We have traveled many places abroad but most especially we have hopefully made an impact here on our island."

Dancers Brandon Fujikawa, Vance Camacho, and former dancer Dana Libby shared what has impacted them the most. "Personally, I've learned to open up myself more because before I joined this dance group I was a super shy guy," said Fujikawa. Camacho added, "Most importantly, I've learned that our culture is coming to somewhere and it's not that good so I feel like this is something that can help our culture and still keep the culture alive."

 And Libby noted, "It also teaches you to be humble and to respect your island and your culture and to just continue to pass it on to the next generation so that it lives."

The group will host a special sending-off performance this Saturday at the University of Guam Fine Arts Theater in Mangilao, at 2 and 7pm. It will include a poetry slam, performances by Southern High School, Matua Sablan, the Queen of Chamorro Music herself Flora Baza Quan, as well as a sneak preview of the performance the group is taking to Europe. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased by calling 787-2760.

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