Encore Fall 2023

Ballroom Dance Company


Young Ambassadors

Exemplifying Excellence

The Ballroom Dance Company poses with the two first- place awards they won at the Blackpool Dance Festival in England.

The BYU Ballroom Dance Company was the first of three performance groups to depart for a department-sponsored academic tour abroad during the summer of 2023. Their travels took them back to the prestigious British Championships at the Blackpool Dance Festival, where BYU has previously competed. The company’s hard work was rewarded when their two numbers, “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Somebody to Love,” resulted in two first-place awards. Afterward, Gary McDonald from the National Dance Council of America remarked, “BYU’s performance to a packed house was electric, resulting in a rare standing ovation. BYU continues to set the standard for competitive formation dancing.”

After their wins in Blackpool, the Ballroom Dance Company headed to Brussels, Belgium, to unveil their show Rhythm at the Royal Flemish Theatre to an audience of European Union ambassadors and global dignitaries. The dance company’s trip, hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, marked the fifth visit of a BYU performing ensemble to Brussels in recent years. Their performance tapped into the power that dance has to connect people from different corners of the world. All in all, it was a fitting way to end a successful tour.

The Cougarettes spend time with families at the Résidis refugee center in Paris.

In July, the BYU Cougarettes traveled overseas to compete at the World Dance Movement, an international dance festival in Castellana Grotte, Italy. The Cougarettes received an Innovative Choreography award for their performance of “Comes in Waves” and took home the award for Dance Group of the Year, which was the highest overall award given to a performing group at the event. The ensemble rubbed shoulders with dancers from numerous countries through workshop classes in Castellana Grotte, which ended with all the dancers sharing the stage to put on one last performance, the result of their hard work.

The Cougarettes also made a stop in France, where they experienced one of the spiritual highs of the trip: a visit to the Résidis refugee center in Paris. The group spent the day dancing, singing, and getting to know the families there. Abbi Kelley Slade, 2022–23 team president, says, “It was so special to see how humble and grateful they were for the littlest things. Something so little to us meant so much to them.”

The Young Ambassadors visit the beautiful Glencoe valley in Scotland.

Finally, near the end of the summer, the BYU Young Ambassadors embarked on a tour to the United Kingdom. From July 31 to August 16, the group performed their show Thank You for the Music at Surgeons’ Hall Grand Theatre, hosted by theSpaceUK as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Scotland’s Fringe is credited as the largest performing arts festival in the world, and the ensemble was honored to be included for the first time.

Highlights of their time included filming three music videos, selling out all of their shows, learning history and customs in a foreign country, and performing at devotionals for the stakes in Edinburgh and London. One student reflects, “Socially and spiritually, I learned that I can find belonging anywhere and that there are kind and Christlike people everywhere. Edinburgh and London are so welcoming. I felt love from the people we met—and felt my own love for them.”

A Young Ambassadors performer shows off his skills in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Ballroom Dance Company poses at the Blackpool Dance Festival in England.