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A Brief History
The Leyte Kalipayan Dance Company is one of the best folkloric dance troupes in the Philippines today and has been performing since 1961 in the local as well as international scene. Its repertoire consists of Philippine traditional dances and music showing a kaleidoscope of Philippine culture through the performing arts.
The company started out as the The Leyte Filipiniana Dance Troupe, founded in 1960 by Teresita Veloso Pil as a small school project, with the encouragement of Sister Mary Canisius, school directress of the Holy Infant College in Tacloban City, Philippines. Its initial performance in September 1961 for the school's College Day celebration was so successful that it generated invitations to perform in other parts of the city, in the province, and eventually all over the country.
After four years of active life, the troupe achieved international recognition when President Diosdado Macapagal designated it as the 1965 Official Cultural Ambassadors of the Philippines to the United Sates where it toured the country for almost a year, earning exceptional reviews and appearing in the legendary Ed Sullivan Show.
The troupe performed at the 1970 Word Trade Exposition in Osaka, Japan and in 1971 spent a month in Guam performing at the Philippine-Guam Trade Fair as official cultural delegates of the Philippines.
The troupe was reorganized in 1975 and became an independent entity. It opened its dance workshops to students from various schools and extended membership throughout the provinces of Leyte and Samar. From 1975 to 1985, the troupe gave performances for foreign dignitaries that ranged from the U.N. Secretary General to famed ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn.
The troupe was renamed Leyte Kalipayan Dance Company in 1977 when the Leyte Kalipayan Cultural Foundation, Inc. was formed, the Board composed of prominent businessmen, to manage the growing activities of the organization. (Kalipayan is a vernacular term which means joy or happiness.)
In 1979 the company toured Taiwan.
In 1980 it participated at various international folklore festivals in Israel, Italy, and Switzerland.
It won the Silver Medal at the Dijon International Folklore Festival Competitions in Dijon, France besting 32 other international dance groups.
The dance company visited Saudi Arabia in 1981 where it won the hearts of the more than 12,000 Filipinos working there as well as the native Saudis who flocked to their SRO performances. It was the first Philippine dance group ever to perform in Jeddah. They also gave performances in Kuwait for an international dance festival in the city and they ended their Middle East Tour with shows in Bahrain.
1982 was a banner year for the company. Besides performing at the World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee where they drew huge crowds who gave them standing ovations, they also performed for the opening of the EPCOT Center in Disneyworld, Florida, joining the "18 World's Best Dance Troupes" invited for the occasion. The company participated in the prestigious International Children's Festival in Virginia, then gave shows in New York City and performed at the occasion of the State Visit of President Ferdinand Marcos to the United States in Washington, D.C.
They continued their U.S. Tour with performances in 33 states. They then crossed to Mexico City where they participated at the 10th Festival Internacional de Cervantino doing shows every night for two weeks in different Mexican cities. At this point a journalist wrote that the Leyte Kalipayan Dance Company has visited more cities in the United States and Mexico than any other Philippine dance group.
The company was designated as official Philippine delegates to the 1990 Asian Folklore Festival in Malaysia.
They performed in folklore festivals in Spain in 1993; The Netherlands, Belgium and England in 1995.
A two-month European Tour followed in 1998 with visits to Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
With the support of the Kalipayan Cultural Foundation, the governments of the Province of Leyte and the City of Tacloban, The Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the National Commission for Culture and Arts, as well as its alumni, many now living in the United States and other parts of the world, The Leyte Kalipayan Dance Company continues to educate and entertain audiences locally and internationally on the splendor of Philippine dance and music.