Heidi Chargualaf-Quenga – Director
Maternal Chamoru Clan: Gollo, Tamuning
Paternal Chamoru Clan: Alic-Carabao, Piti
With a background in Polynesian dance, ballet/tap, and JROTC, I have traveled the world in search of a cultural group who preserved my Micronesian Chamoru heritage. Raised as a military dependent all over the world, it was not until 1996 when I met the founder of KCP and the group that would change my life. With guidance from the founder and past instructors, Regina Quenga and Glenn Bernardo, I was given the honor to be Director of the Kutturan Chamoru Performers (KCP) in 1998. I continue KCP’s journey to preserve, perpetuate and promote the Chamoru culture. Both Regina and Glenn continue to be important influences in my life both culturally and spiritually and I thank them for their vision for starting a legacy such as KCP. With strong Chamoru family roots and continued community support, both give me the strength to continue to teach and share the traditions of the Chamoru culture. I believe that anyone can learn about the Chamoru culture as long as they have the desire to learn and have an open heart and mind. My style of teaching is in a “family/group” atmosphere. Participants learn basic dance moves from the different eras of Chamoru dance to include: Ancient, Post-Spanish Colonization, and Contemporary. Songs and chants are taught using the native Chamoru language and the English translation on a weekly basis. This method is used to help preserve the near to extinct Chamoru language.
I continue to volunteer as Director of KCF because of the wonderful people I have had the honor to meet, teach, and grow with over the years. We’ve traveled around the world and danced in places I never thought we could. I have had the honor to develop an on-going mentorship with Frank Rabon, Master of Chamoru Dance and collaborate with the main Chamoru dance organization called Pa’a Tao Tao Tano based in Guam.
KCF is more than just a dance group. It is a comfortable family oriented environment that promotes learning the Chamoru culture through volunteerism, discipline, and mutual respect. KCF has touched many lives and helped shape me as an artist and as an individual. I am so proud to say that I am the Director and hope to continue to bring out the best in the volunteers that I teach and work with year after year. I am blessed to have a wonderful group of supportive parents, local Chamoru and non-Chamoru community groups, friends, and dancers who week after week donate their time and energy in perpetuating and promoting the Chamoru culture!! BIBA KCP!!!
Joey Atoigue Quenga – Musical Director
Maternal Chamoru Clan: Bebang, Talafofo
Paternal Chamoru Clan: Quenga, Piti
Born and raised in Long Beach, my musical education began at home and continued
on the streets and in the classroom. I started singing novenas for my family’s annual celebration, battling MC’s on the school playground, performing with high school R&B quartets, singing in college musical groups, to performing with local reggae bands. It was inevitable for me to become Kutturan Chamoru Performer’s Musical Director in 1998 and I am honored to be part of a great ensemble of musicians.
If you ask me what I am, I’ll tell you, “I’m 50% Chamoru and 50% Music. It runs in my veins.” My musical diet consists of Dance Hall, Reggae, R&B, Hip Hop, Oldies, Urban; and of course traditional and contemporary Chamoru and Island music. My love of music crosses over numerous genres but the one I cherish most is Chamoru music. I enjoy passing on the Chamoru culture to those willing and excited to learn. I believe that learning the different chants and songs will enable me to continue to learn and understand the Chamoru language.
Since KCP’s inception in 1993, there have been numerous kids and adults that have come and gone, but I continue to working with KCP’s musicians because I get a thrill taking the group to different cities around the country. And although we’ve performed at the annual festivals year in and year out, it is the kids in the group that volunteer and truly keep me looking forward to our shows year after year.
Clarissa Mantanona-Celano – Co-Director
Maternal Chamoru Clan: De’gu, Yigo
Paternal Chamoru Clan: Mahetok, Talafofo
Born in Agana, Guam, my family relocated to Long Beach just after Typhoon Pamela destroyed much of our island. After settling into the California lifestyle, the only opportunity to enjoy and absorb our culture was solely at family parties and religious celebrations. Though we relocated to California, my parents still enforced various Chamoru customs during our upbringing. “Amen and respect your elders. Be proud in what you do because when you accomplish anything with Pride, Pride is all that everyone will see.” And my favorite, “You better watch what you do, eh because when you are out there, they don’t see Clarissa, they see Chunte’s daughter and there are eyes ALWAYS watching you.”
Back in 95’, my two eldest children, Marcus and Monique who are half Chamoru and half Samoan, needed something to occupy their time. Monique began Polynesian dancing and shortly after Marcus was forced into lessons, as well. Their late father, Vegas Matautia, did not agree with this decision and wanted them to learn about their Chamoru and Samoan roots. I suggested for him to find a Samoan dance group and that I would find a Chamoru dance group. After searching through the phone book, I did find an organization called “Guam Communications Network” in Long Beach and took a chance. I contacted the Director and to my surprise they did have a dance group, called “Haleta” and it was free of charge. This is where I met Regina Quenga and the late Glen Bernardo who would soon become my mentors.
Our dance group has grown from just a handful of dancers doing one dance to a variety of Ancient, Post-Spanish Colonization and Contemporary dances to choose from. And after many years of performing, my friends and family still ask me, “Are you still dancing?” And I gladly respond by saying how proud I am of the opportunity I have had in educating other young volunteers about the beautiful Chamoru culture. The songs, dances and chants that we bestow upon our audiences are very touching and unique. Seeing our elders wipe their tears during one of our songs makes all our efforts priceless.