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Dance Up! Australia wraps up Filipino dance classes paving way for other cultural groups

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Maria Smith
Maria Smith is the Chairperson of the Australian Filipino Community Services, a non-profit organisation based in Victoria.

On 28 June, the Arthur Wren Hallam Community Centre witnessed another exciting day from the Australian-Filipino Community Services (AFCS) participants and volunteers as they wrapped up the 10-week Filipino dance lessons with Dance Up! Australia.

Twenty-four seniors in Melbourne, mostly Filipinos (including a few Chinese, Samoans, Tamil and Australians) have completed ten weeks of enjoyable routines (for the Estudiantina Folk Dance) while giving them the opportunity “to enjoy the benefits of movement and dance, providing a purpose to stay socially active, fit and healthy” (AFCS Southeastern Region Project Coordinator Gabby Ocampo). 

The AFCS has been fortunate to have the passion and dedication of 88-year old dance teacher Mrs Lourdes de Llamas, fondly known as Mama Ludy. “I have really enjoyed volunteering with Dance Up! It also develops special friendships with people from other cultures”, Mama Ludy expressed warmly in reflection. 

Mama Ludy, Fe Gillies and staff from the Southern Migrant & Refugee Centre

Asked about her teaching routine, Mama Ludy proudly indicated that before each dance session, she would start with mild exercises that would lead to other dance routines like Hawaiian, Jazz and the Roaring 20s that she already reserved for future AFCS occasions. 

Estudiantina Folk Dance has been particularly chosen as Mama Ludy recalled it was a popular dance for students during the Spanish regime, and one of the easiest and fun routines to teach our seniors. She had choreographed the dance creatively “to suit the skills and capabilities of our senior groups”.

Overall, the AFCS support and partnership with the 25-year old Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre (SMRC) now led by Acting CEO Brian Oates whose presence graced this final performance, has been a blessing that has mutually benefitted our seniors from culturally and linguistically diverse background. 

For the next ten weeks, Dance Up! Australia has lined up the Chinese cultural group for its likewise unique and vibrant dance classes. DUA Project Coordinator Angela Nguyen is to be thanked for making all these possible. Let us continue to empower our diverse communities by inspiring one another to see the best in each one of us, particularly through cultural performances such as our unique and popular dances. 

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