Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher
October 2, 1949 – January 10, 2021
Lydia Paz Corteza Umali, Lyds to friends and Iloy to her student-dancers, was a dancer, choreographer, and teacher.
She was born in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental on October 2, 1949 to Archiebald Corteza and Sylvia Almazan Corteza, both acclaimed musicians. She earned her degree in education, major in physical education, in 1969 at the La Salle College Bacolod (now University of St. La Salle).
In 1970, she became an instructor at her old high school, the Negros Occidental High School in Bacolod, where her mass field demonstrations were a staple, and also served as an introduction to a life dedicated to performance.
In 1976, she left for Baguio to teach at Brent International School. That stint lasted for a year. In 1995, she taught at the University of St. La Salle, and then joined the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos [UNO-R] as a faculty member of its College of Education.
In UNO-R, she founded the Malipayon Dance Group in 1996, which would become the Kasadyahan Dance Company [KDC]. The group hosted performing arts scholars to train them in dancing skills in different genres. Her stay at the UNO-R saw her producing dance at the height of her talents, and she was appointed artistic director and choreographer of the KDC.
During her tenure, the KDC produced well-received dance theater productions, many of which she also choreographed, including Gahum (2000), Karul-an (2001), Kasadyahan (2003), Jazz-up (2004), and Baduy (2005).
KDC alumnus Jeremy Salvie Gurtones, a pioneering member of the dance group, remembers her as a talented and fun dance teacher: “She touched so many lives through her passion of dance. Her gentle guidance and easy smile helped us [become] the dancers we are today.”
Her KDC colleague, theater director Rudy Reveche, agrees: “Lydia Paz Umali was a disciplinarian who drew out the best from her students, be it in folk, modern, ballet, and foreign dances. Her wards, who are now dance teachers and professional dancers, are her living legacy to the dance community of Negros Occidental.”