Contemporary Dance Theatre

Contemporary Dance Theatre Makes Connections in France and Belgium

CDT dancers show their thanks to the group of refugees who came to the Paris show with a banner the refugees made for them.

Week two of Contemporary Dance Theatre’s tour began with a bus ride from Spain to France, through beautiful mountain landscapes and across the sunflower-filled fields of the French countryside. It was a memorable experience for all.

On Tuesday the group performed at Les Pyramides Congrès near Paris for an enthusiastic crowd of French members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, BYU humanities students, and very excited refugee children. Georgette Lalaus, a great supporter of BYU, brought more than 60 of these children from Groupe Résidis, a group that works with asylum-seeking refugees. BYU student Jake Hendershot shares his experience interacting with these amazing children: “After the show as I entered this rowdy crowd, I was swarmed with the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen. Screams of ‘photo! photo!’ echoed around us as mothers put their children in my arms for a picture. We ended up onstage hugging and dancing in a beautiful moment of human connection. I didn’t speak their language and they didn’t speak mine, yet we communicated on a level of love. . . . Thank you, BYU, for giving me an opportunity to be blessed by these people.”

CDT members Christian Burton, Caler Tregeagle, Audrey Allen, and Julia Izu connect with audience members in Paris.

The following day the group experienced the sights, sounds, and culture of Paris while visiting many museums, monuments, and cathedrals scattered throughout the city. On the way out of town before heading on to Belgium, they visited the Palace of Versailles, the Paris France Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the beautiful temple gardens. While at the temple they were able to have a missionary moment with their bus driver Alex Symeonidis, who thanked the students and shared the special feeling he had with them in the gardens while viewing the Christus statue.

A Friday evening performance at the Wolubilis theater in Brussels brought the tour to a close. As several BYU performing groups have in the past, CDT performed for a sold-out crowd including more than 100 delegates, ambassadors, and invited guests connected to the European Union. These VIP attendees and their families expressed great joy in watching the performance and interacting with the dancers before and after the show. The students conveyed their heartfelt gratitude for this once-in-a-lifetime experience and for this amazing finish to their tour.

Georgette Lalaus (left), who brought refugees to the Paris show, talks with BYU students (from right) Caler Tregeagle, Jake Hendershot, and Kyla Balser.

The refugee group joins the BYU students for an energetic picture onboard the tour bus after the Paris performance.