Introducing a Carnival
Theatre Ballet’s production Carnival of the Animals has arrived with all-new costuming and Victorian circus whimsy. Director Shayla Bott based this full-length ballet on the enchanting musical suite by Camille Saint-Saëns. Along with choreographer Ashley Parov, Bott has created a magical experience that includes elephant puppets and a larger-than-life bear. The show, which features juggling and the group’s world-class dancing, will appeal to audiences of all ages- ballet aficionados and novices alike. Bott drew up compelling new characters to aid in converting the original piece of music into a cohesive story. The artful narrative begins when three children wander into the forest during a stormy night. They find shelter in an old circus pavilion and soon meet and old lady and a juggler- who transform into a young carnival master and giant bear, respectively. Then toys from an old trunk morph into life-size dancers, and the children follow suit by becoming ballet dancers and sashaying into the world of the circus. Company member London Stringham, who portrays the Carnival Master, says, “I love the new show because it features many elements that you don’t usually see in ballet.” She hoped the children in the audience will especially enjoy the performance, as it is more engaging than a classical ballet. In addition to the performance, Theatre Ballet hosts a pre-show Prince and Princess Party, in which the children are invited to come dressed in costumes and meet the BYU dancers. All in All, this innovative production of Carnival of the Animals is a day at the circus you won’t want to miss.
Supporting Unity in Indonesia and Vietnam
On tour in Indonesia and Vietnam, this spring, BYU Singer will join local ensembles on the stages of concert halls, university, and a cathedral. One such ensemble is the Anglkung Udjo of Bandung, Indonesia, who will perform with bamboo instruments in a special number with BYU Singers. These joint performances will conclude with song in either Indonesian or Vietnamese. Artist manager Rex Barrington says, “I am certain the BYU Singers will love the experience and be well received.” In Bali, BYU Singers will perform alongside multiple community choirs as part of an interdenominational charity performance for the local churches. Following a tour of performance venues in both countries, artist manager Rex Barrington says, “I am certain the BYU Singers will love the experience and be well-received”. This spirit of unity demonstrates Indonesia’s efforts to create a religiously pluralistic society. Singer Skyler Tolman is excited to reach out to the local people. “through our music and our service, we can better share God’s love and be tools in His hands for spreading love, peace, and the Spirit.”. Once in Vietnam, BYU Singers will be joined by BYU President Kevin J. Worthen and his wife, Peggy. Also present will be International Vice President Sandra Rogers. Their first stop will be the historic Hanoi Opera House. Mr. Barrington says, “it’s the gem of the tour, it’s an honor to perform there and the Singers are very pleased to have that opportunity.” Finishing the tour in Ho Chi Minh City, the Singers will collaborate with the Conservatory of Music for an incredible evening of world-class music. This trip will be Dr. Andrew Crane’s first international tour as director of BYU Singers. He says, “I look forward to collaborating with choral students and professors at our peer institutions in these countries. We’re grateful and excited to share this music with the world.”
Keeping Traditions Alive in Germany and Switzerland
“As a boy, I grew up with the idea that the American Indians were the natural, unspoiled, heroic warriors who loved nature,” says Hans-Wilhelm Kelling, a native of Germany and professor of German at BYU. “There is a fascination with the culture of these people, their dances, their songs, their habits—all of which is so different from ours in Europe.” Living Legends, who represents Native American, Polynesian, Latin American and cultures through dance and music, will take its show Seasons to Germany and Switzerland this spring. “Germany and Switzerland are countries really well-known for their rich cultural heritage,” says Living Legends artistic director Janielle Christensen. “We’re bringing three cultures who also keep their heritage very alive. Any place we go, people fall in love with all three cultures. The show is designed in a way that people appreciate the background, the culture, and the regalia.” In addition to rehearsing, the students are preparing for the tour by learning more about the two countries. “[The German and Swiss people] don’t know us yet, but they are already embracing us with love, and I want to go there and embrace them with love too,” says BYU dancer Sophia Guerrero. “It makes me want to love their culture and appreciate them and give justice to the beauty they see in our culture.” Some of the German venues where Living Legends will perform include Stadthalle Theatre in Neumünster, Meistersingerhalle in Nuremberg, Berlin University of the Arts Concert Hall in Berlin, and Konstablerwache, an iconic downtown square in Frankfurt. They will also perform at Schinzenhof Hall in Horgen, Switzerland.
Collaborating in the Land Down Under
This May, BYU’s Wind Symphony will venture to Australia. Over their three-week tour of Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, and Brisbane, they will perform 11 concerts, some of which will benefit charities. Between concerts, they will participate in several workshops with local universities, high schools, and grammar schools. Wind Symphony student president Brandon Chamberlain says, “I’m excited to meet new people and become acquainted with their way of life. I hope to inspire every member of the ensemble to prepare to perform better than they ever have before.” Over the course of the tour, the Wind Symphony will have the privilege of performing with some truly phenomenal artists. Four of the concerts will feature guest vocalist Patrice Tipoki Arkins, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a well-known musical theater star in Australia. Another notable collaboration will be a joint concert with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Wind Symphony. And, much to the delight of BYU’s Wind Symphony director, Don Peterson, one evening will be spent with Australian composer Ralph Hultgren, who has composed many of the Wind Symphony’s favorite pieces. “I’m very taken with the wonderful people of Australia,” says Peterson. “I’m most excited for the friendships between students that will undoubtedly result from their joint performances and collaborations with local musicians.” In addition to their many concerts, members of the Wind Symphony will take some time to experience the wonderful culture of Australia. They’ll enjoy a visit to the world-famous Sydney Opera House, attend an Aussie-rules football game, and socialize with Kangaroos and koalas at the Featherdale Wildlife Park.
Celebrating Cultures in Europe
Festivals, concerts, and castles are in the forecast for International Folk Dance Ensemble, who will visit Belgium, France, and Poland this summer. The ensemble will spend an entire week in Schoten, Belgium, to participate in the Hello!Schoten folk festival and perform with folk dancers from all over the world. “It will be a lot more interactive for us in comparison to normal performances,” says BYU dancer Samuel Chun. “I’m looking forward to having a better chance to bond with the dancers from other countries because it will be more of an exchange opportunity.” Also in Belgium, International Folk Dance Ensemble will hold a VIP concert under the patronage of the first vice president of the European Parliament, Ms. Mairead McGuinness. Special guests of the event will include EU officials, European Parliament members, ambassadors and representatives of churches and NGOs. The event in organized in partnership with the European Union Office of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The group will then visit France, where the students will perform in Paris’s beautiful Massy Opera House; see Mont-Sant-Michel, an island castle; and tour the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Collevill-sur-Mer, which was built to honor the soldiers who fought on D-day during World War II. “I have heard the sites are very somber, but I think it will be one of the greatest memories we will make on our tours,” says Chun. The ensemble’s last stop will be in Poland, where the students will hold a dance workshop with the Polish folk group Zespół Pieśni I Tańca and participate in the Eurofolk Festival in Zamość, Poland.
International Folk Dance Ensemble
Finding Foundations on the East Coast
The Ballroom Dance Company will tour the eastern United States. They will perform in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington D.C. Throughout the tour, BYU alumni and church members will host the BYU students in their homes, giving the group an opportunity to meet families, share stories, and make connections that can last a lifetime. Along with performing, the dancers will visit some of the oldest monuments in the nation, including the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and the Washington Monument. “I’m super excited,” says the Ballroom Dance Company’s technician, Emma Frost. “For the most part, we have done international tours and tours on the west. I’m excited to see the East and see places that were really historical and things coming of age.” In New York, the group will participate in master classes at the premier Brooklyn Dancesport Club. Alina Basyuk and Marat Gimaev, instructors at the Brooklyn Dancesport Club and have recently helped choreograph the Ballroom Dance Company’s Ballroom Formation Medley, “Ode to Joy,” that won the British Championships in Blackpool, England, in 2016. “They have a current knowledge of how the industry works and how the competitive dancers are dancing and their technique. It will be very valuable for us to get current industry knowledge,” says dancer Clarissa McIntire. “[And] they are good examples of people who can be professional, compassionate, and kind.”
Ballroom Dance Company
the Ballroom Dance Company took its show Swing ‘n’ Sway to Washington and Idaho this past fall. Many of the dancers grew up in Washington and got their start dancing with Pacific Ballroom Dance, a studio in Auburn that sends dozens of students to BYU’s program each year. “We were able to go back to their roots and teach about ballroom dance,” says BYU technician Emma Frost. In Everett, the group took some of their costumes and dances to Denny Juvenile justice Center, where they did an outreach event for the residents and staff. “the kids were super receptive, one of the most receptive audiences we’ve had,” says Frost. Other Washington cites the group performed in were Walla Walla, Olympia, Bremerton, Auburn, and Vancouver, with an additional stop in Caldwell, Idaho.
Ballroom Dance Company
On the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, about 3,000 people flooded the Bee Hółdzil Fighting Scouts Events Center to watch Living Legends perform. “We weren’t expecting that many people to show up,” says Living Legends social media manager and Native American decedent Shanoah Ulibarri Zendejas. “But it just kept filling up, and they really loved the show.” BYU dancer Sophia Guerrero says, “Our theme for the year is to turn our hearts to the Father and be one with our ancestors.” Because many of the students are familiar with the Navajo Nation through their own ancestry, this performance proved to be a special celebration of cultural heritage. In their final song, “Go, My son,” Living Legends paid tribute to Chief Manuelito, a revered Navajo leader. Living Legends also performed in Colorado and New Mexico before returning home to prepare for their extended tour to Germany and Switzerland.
Creating Lasting Memories
In February, Young Ambassadors took its show Welcome Home—featuring music from Broadway such as Hamilton, Singin’ in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz, and Footloose—on tour to Arizona and southern Utah. Amid the group’s seven performances, Young Ambassadors held workshops with high schools and colleges as well as a seminary class in Prescott, Arizona. During the workshops, Young Ambassadors taught music, choreography, and acting from Welcome Home. The locals then performed what they learned and received feedback from Young Ambassadors on their stagecraft. Another tour highlight was a performance for the senior citizens of Amethyst Gardens care facility in Peoria, Arizona. Young Ambassadors member Scott Hendrickson says, “It’s an opportunity to reach out to individuals, spreading light, recharging spirits, and creating lasting memories for us.”
Perfecting Their Craft
This March, Theatre Ballet embarked on a tour across Texas, New Mexico, and Utah to share their talents and represent BYU with their new show, Carnival of the Animals. In addition to evening performances, Theatre Ballet hosted workshops in several cities, including Moab, Farmington, and El Paso. More than 300 students from nearly 10 different schools participated. Artistic director Shayla Bott says, “By the time they completed their tour, they had explored different ideas and technical challenges onstage, which has helped them to become more well-rounded.”