Encore Winter 2015

Ballroom Dance Company

From Arizona to Nauvoo

Ballroom Dance Company members Karoline Fisher and AJ Heaps pose with students at Coronado Elementary School in St. Johns, Arizona, after their blacklight “MicTendo” dance.

Living one’s dream is amazing. Sharing one’s dream is even better.This is what the BYU Ballroom Dance Company got to do as they toured Arizona in October. With its strong LDS and alumni population, Arizona has become a popular place for BYU performing groups to travel to, allowing many students to perform for family and friends who reside there.

During an assembly at Coronado Elementary School, the Ballroom Dance Company performs a West Coast swing for the students.

“We never get to see our families that much,” says dancer Joaquin Harris. “On the tour they were able to see us and see us in action.” Joaquin’s wife, Marissa, who is also in the company, related how great it was to bring what they love to the people they love. “Being a ballroom dancer has always been a dream of mine,” she says. “This time I was able to share it with my family there in Arizona, which made it very special.”With 32 dancers on board, the tour began October 17, 2014, in Flagstaff and then continued on to Snowflake, St. Johns, Tucson, Mesa, Queen Creek, and Camp Verde—with many performances, workshops, and devotionals throughout. The Ballroom Dance Company interacted with more than 6,000 people on the 10-day tour.

The company poses together before the last show of their October tour, in Camp Verde, Arizona.

Of course, it’s not the numbers that matter but rather the experiences the dancers bring to the audiences and to each other. “The purpose of the tour is to spread the light of BYU,” says first-year member Camille Butler, who lived in Arizona and still has family there. With the opportunity to perform for family, she planned to make it special for them. “There are meaningful messages in ballroom dance,” she says. “I wanted them to walk away with a feeling of joy, light, and love for living.”The company benefits along with their audiences. Tour manager Brent Keck noticed each member of the group progress as both a dancer and a person during the trip. “[Touring] allows students the opportunity to take what they [have] learned and display it to the world,” he says. “Giving them something outside of the classroom to craft and showcase their material is a learning experience for everyone.”The Ballroom Dance Company is now looking forward to their next tour. On June 15 they will begin their 13 nights of performing in Nauvoo, Illinois. The group last visited Nauvoo in 2012, and they are excited to go back. “Combining my love for ballroom dance with our historical city is very special to me and the group,” says Marissa.