FORT HOOD, Texas-As the Pacific-Island dancers moved in and out of formations, their graceful movements began to tell a story of a distant culture in a far away land.

An important tradition within the Asian culture, dance is used to pass on history, legacies and traditions.

The 1st Cavalry Division hosted its Asian/Pacific-Islander Heritage Month observance at Abrams Gym, here, May 27.

American Samoa native, Lt. Col. Leafaina Yahn, deputy brigade commander for the 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Brigade, served as the guest speaker.

Yahn expressed the importance of never forgetting where you come from during her speech. She stated that dancing is one of the biggest traditions throughout the Asian culture.

"I think it's not just important to Americans, but it's more important to us as a group of people because it gives us time to reflect about our history," said Yahn. "There are so many others whose parents and grandparents migrated to the U.S. and have never had the opportunity to get in touch with their culture."

Asian dance opens the eyes of many to an unseen side of the Asian culture.

"Dance reminds us of our heritage and where we came from. It gives us our identity," said Sgt. 1st Class Ramon Hizon, a Seattle, Wash. native and equal opportunity advisor for the 1st Cav. Div.

The Filipino-American Association and Baila Pacifica Entertainment group performed traditional dances unique to Asian cultures during the observance.

"There are approximately 4,700 Asians in the Greater Killeen area. More than 670 on Fort Hood alone," said Helen Cayetano, a Bataam, Philippines native and vice president for the Filipino-American Association. "It's important to remember your roots. There's a meaning in every dance and costume. Tradition is the grandparents' legacy to the younger generations."

The Fil-Am dance team preformed three dances. One of the dances was the Philippians' national dance, "Tinkling", or the bamboo dance.

"This is a dance of skill, grace, and history," said Cayetano. "The dance is about how the farmers set bamboo traps to keep the rice birds from eating the rice.

The Polynesian dance team, Baila Pacifica, involved the audience as they preformed a combination of traditional dances mixed with modern styles.

"Dance is very important to us," said Pvt. Candido Tamen, of Talafofo, Guam, with the 553rd Combat Support Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade. "We are from little tiny islands in the ocean and this is a big nation. It's important to spread our culture to everyone. Hopefully from what we do, people we gain a little more understanding from our culture. It's important to share our customs and culture with people."

Listen carefully because there's a story to be told, a legacy of history and traditions are passed through the art of dance; whether shimmying with bamboo or sashaying with fire.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16