Over the past 40 years, BYU has developed a strong relationship with the People’s Republic of China. In 1979 BYU sent the Young Ambassadors and a few members of the Lamanite Generation, now known as Living Legends, to Beijing. This first performance began a relationship that has allowed many other BYU performing groups to perform in China over the years. This year, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of that first tour, BYU put together its largest tour group yet to perform internationally. More than 200 students, faculty, tour managers, and production staff traveled to Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai to perform their show, BYU Spectacular in China. Backed by the music of the BYU Chamber Orchestra, performing groups Vocal Point, the Young Ambassadors, Living Legends, International Folk Dance Ensemble, an alumni couple from the Ballroom Dance Company, the Cougarettes, and the Dunk Team delivered vibrant and energetic performances that evoked the love of friendship, family, and ancestors. When they weren’t performing, China Spectacular group members visited cultural sites, met new people, and learned about the history and culture of China. BYU worked with longtime friend China Performing Arts Agency to provide service to the people of China, give out thousands of BYU shirts and mini basketballs, and make memories that will last a lifetime.
AN EXCHANGE WITH THE CENTRAL CONSERVATORY OF MUSIC
Four days before BYU’s first performance in Beijing, the BYU Chamber Orchestra arrived in China early in order to perform at the Central Conservatory of Music. As part of this music exchange, top professors from the conservatory traveled to BYU and presented four newly debuted pieces for an audience at the de Jong Concert Hall. While in Beijing, the BYU Chamber Orchestra did the same thing, learning with top professors from the conservatory and presenting a concert of newly debuted music for a packed audience. “Collaboration makes art so much more interesting as a musician and creator,” says Chamber Orchestra member Caleb Rhoton. “Collaborating with these artists was possibly one of the single greatest moments so far. They were absolutely fantastic.”
DANCING WITH MINZU UNIVERSITY
The shared artistic friendship between BYU and China—built over the decades through various interactions—was bolstered again through cultural exchanges between performers in BYU’s International Folk Dance Ensemble and Minzu University of China’s dance program. In 2017 dancers from both organizations shared a rehearsal hall and stage for BYU’s Christmas Around the World show in Provo. Staying in town for a month, the Minzu University students learned about arts in the United States,rehearsed for the combined show, and displayed their unique dancing style to audiences during the performance. While in China for the 2019 BYU Spectacular, International Folk Dance Ensemble traveled to Minzu University, reuniting with friends and making new ones as they learned about the arts in China. “When we arrived [at the university], we started to cheer,” says International Folk Dance Ensemble member Julianne Binns. “It felt like everything had come full circle.”