Ballroom Dance Company

Dancing Across Southern Africa

BYU student Ashlyn Burnside takes a selfie with fellow Ballroom Dance Company members and local students at the iThemba Labantu Lutheran Community Centre after a cultural dance exchange in Philippi, South Africa.

On May 1, the BYU Ballroom Dance Company kicked off their adventure on a boat tour through the scenic waters of Hout Bay in Cape Town, South Africa, where they soaked in the breathtaking views of the coastline and spotted the seals of Duiker Island. They later participated in a VIP reception before gracing the stage of the esteemed Cape Town International Convention Centre for their first performance of the tour. 

The following morning, the Ballroom Dance Company ventured to Table Mountain for the breathtaking views of Cape Town and then went to Boulders Beach for a delightful encounter with African penguins. Later, the group took part in an inspiring cultural outreach initiative, collaborating with a dance group from iThemba Labantu Lutheran Community Centre in Philippi, a township in Cape Town. During the cultural exchange, both groups shared their passion for dance, fostered connections, and spread joy in the local community. “We had an incredible time with the kids in Cape Town from iThemba Labantu,” says Ballroom Dance Company member Kennidy McOmber. “Watching them dance and seeing the joy they all have no matter their circumstances has been truly eye-opening and inspiring.” The day concluded with dinner and an activity at a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints near Stellenbosch, which gave the BYU students and local young adults the opportunity to build bonds of camaraderie. 

The Ballroom Dance Company performs the paso doble at the Playhouse Company Opera Theatre in Durban, South Africa.

A journey to Durban awaited them the next morning. In Durban they immersed themselves in an invigorating outreach with the cultural dance group Usiko Entertainment. The groups engaged with each other and made new friendships by teaching and performing for one another and sharing their passion for dance. Afterward, the company enjoyed some traditional Zulu dishes before ending their day. 

The excitement didn’t stop the next day as the Ballroom Dance Company took the stage at the renowned Playhouse Company Opera Theatre in Durban, delivering not one but two mesmerizing performances. The BYU students were honored to have Ms. Gugu Ngcobo representing the royal Zulu household at their performance. Ms. Ngcobo addressed the company and gave them gifts on behalf of the Zulu queen. 

After a performance in Durban, BYU students beam with delight after being honored with gifts from the Zulu Queen, given by Gugu Ngcobo on behalf of the royal household.

As the clock struck three the next morning, the Ballroom Dance Company bid farewell to Durban and set their sights on Gaborone, Botswana, by way of Johannesburg. While in Johannesburg, the group attended a local Church branch of young single adults. They shared a beautiful testimony meeting followed by a devotional from the BYU students and group discussions focused on the similarities of both groups despite living so far apart from each other. 

The tour has only just begun, and the BYU Ballroom Dance Company is loving their time in southern Africa. They are looking forward to more enchanting performances and cultural exchanges in the weeks to come! 

Members of the Ballroom Dance Company marvel at the view atop Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.

Ballroom Dance Company members (top left) Kennidy McOmber, Noah Horlacher, Savannah Huston, and Brandon Keck (bottom left) pose for a photo with audience members after a performance in Cape Town, South Africa, on May 1.