About our Creative Team
RUBY PEARL CHIONG, Artistic Director
Ruby Pearl Bersamin Chiong joined Samahan as a choreographer, teacher and dancer in 1975. Since then she has become an integral part of Samahan, collaborating with our late founder, Dr. Lolita Diñoso Carter, in performing and teaching Filipino folk dances and producing annual concerts and cultural festival. A Business Administration graduate from the Far Eastern University in the Philippines, she brought with her an extensive background of performances with various dance companies in the Philippines, including the Manileña Dance Company, the Mabuhay Dance Company, Bell Aloha Dancers and the ABS-CBN Dance Troupe. She has taught master classes for the CA Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, the San Diego State Multicultural Program, and the San Diego Area Dance Alliance. She also conducted Philippine dance workshops for the San Diego City Schools, the Sweetwater School District and the SD Young Audiences.
BERNARD BARROS ELLORIN, PhD, Music Director
Dr. Ellorin has over three decades of experience as the principal banduria-1 musician for SAMAHAN Rondalla and as the Director of the SAMAHAN Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble. His involvement with Samahan has been extremely influential in his career choice as an Ethnomusicologist. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Ethnomusicology, cum laude, from UCLA, and his Masters and PhD in Music from the University of Hawaii, Manoa. During the COVID 19 pandemic lock down, he has been teaching Kulintang music online to interested students and will hold in person classes when allowed. In 2019 and in 2021 he was a recipient of the Apprenticeship Program grant of Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA), as Master Artist for two SAMAHAN Kulintang musicians as Apprentices. Dr. Ellorin has recently been invited to be a Board Member and Teaching Artist with the Center for World Music, San Diego. Read more
MICHELLE CAMAYA JULIAN, Dance Instructor, Contributing Choreographer, Performing Artist
After joining the junior company at the age of 8 in 1985, Michelle Camaya Julian continued on to become one of the principal dancers of the Philippine dance company and also becoming a contributing choreographer. She brings limitless joy to “pass the torch” and encourage further learning of our rich Philippine cultural arts to the young artists of today. Michelle graduated from the San Diego School of Performing Arts, earned a BA in dance from UC Irvine. She performed in the musicals Fame, Swing, Kismet, The Lion King (Broadway), Sinatra – Dance with Me and Come Fly Away (Twyla Tharp choreographer). She is certified in Bikram & Modo yoga. She has conducted Master Classes in dance performance in the San Diego School of Performing Arts and is a substitute teacher in dance in the Sweetwater Unified School District. She has been a member of the Actors Equity Association for 20 years.
JD LYN CHIONG, Performing Artist, Contributing Choreographer, Dance Instructor
Jd Lynn Chiong has been a part of the Samahan family since birth. With her mother as the artistic director, her interest in Philippine folk dancing piqued at an early age. She started dancing with Samahan’s junior group at age 4 and never looked back, becoming a dance apprentice in 1989. Since 1991 she has been performing as one of Samahan’s principal dancers and contributing choreographer.
DOROTHY PARKER CORONA, Performing Artist, Dance Instructor, Contributing Choreographer
Dorothy Corona has been a member of Samahan for over 20 years, having joined the dance classes of Ruby Chiong with her sister, Carla, in 1996. Her family has been actively involved with Samahan for generations. Her maternal grandfather, Carlos Linayao, was a long time Board member and served as President in the ’80’s. In the ’80’s, as well, her three aunts, performed as dancers and musician with the Samahan Philippine Dance Company. She has eventually become a principal dancer and also has been assisting the artistic director with the junior students.
REINA BELLE CHIONG, Perfoming Artist, Team Assistant, Board Vice President
Reina Chiong, middle daughter of Ruby Chiong, has been dancing with Samahan for many years. She is the mother of junior dancers, Aiden and Emily Quenaon. She has been performing as a senior dancer since the early 2000’s and has been assisting in dance classes and in concert productions. She takes a lot of pride in her culture and is hoping to continue to pass down the culture to her children.
MARY GRACE NIEVERA, Performing Artist, Assistant Dance Instructor
Mary Grace Nievera started learning how to dance Filipino folk dances in outreach dance classes in Bethune Elementary School taught by Ruby Chiong. She and her other school mates eventually joined the dance company and performed for several years as senior dancers. Mary Grace has consistently performed with Samahan over the years, becoming one of the current principal dancers. She has been relied on as a regular performer with Samahan’s privately sponsored “gigs”. She has also been assisting in teaching dance classes.