American Folk Dance Ensemble

Mountain Strings

Leaving Footprints in the South

The 2024 International Folk Dance Ensemble and Mountain Strings pose at their final performance in Tallahassee, Florida.

The ensemble began their week exploring downtown Nashville before traveling to Nolensville High School to participate in an outreach with the school’s special education students. The high school students enjoyed interactive dances with the Folk Dancers and the chance to talk with them. Students from the high school’s theatre tech class were invited to work with the BYU students in setting up the stage for the ensemble’s evening performance and were able to see how the behind-the-scenes magic happens. 

In Birmingham, Alabama, the ensemble was featured on Fox 6 News, giving a live interview and dance demonstration before they began setting up a show at Thompson High School. Shortly after arriving, half of the group departed for a nearby intermediate school, where 400 fifth graders were waiting to learn about cultural dances and see some of the show’s highlights. In the evening, the Folk Dancers and Mountain Strings took to the stage for a mesmerizing performance in Birmingham. 

Folk Dance Ensemble member Clara Jamison walks through the exhibit at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

On Wednesday, May 15, the ensemble visited the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, which was built where enslaved Black people in the past were forced to labor in a cotton warehouse. The Legacy Museum tells the story of slavery in America through interactive media, first-person narratives, world-class art, and data-rich exhibits. After a morning of reflection the BYU group arrived at O’Dessa’s Blessing, a southern restaurant, where they were received warmly. The ensemble next drove down to Tallahassee, Florida, where they participated in an uplifting outreach session with local youth of the Church that combined dance instruction and testimony. 

The group finally had a day to catch an extra hour of sleep before they visited the construction site of the Tallahassee Florida Temple and had a bite to eat. Afterward, they set up at Lawton Chiles High School, where the ensemble delighted the crowd with a rousing final performance of a long but rewarding tour. 

Folk Dance Ensemble and Mountain Strings entertain a group of youth in Tallahassee, Florida, on May 15.

The ensemble ventured into nature the next day with a visit to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia, surrounding themselves with the natural biodiversity and beauty of the blackwater swamp, birds, Spanish moss, and, of course, alligators. They headed to Jacksonville Beach, Florida, that night. 

They spent Saturday afternoon at Daytona Beach, soaking up the sun and enjoying the sand and waves. In the evening they experienced a swashbuckling-filled Pirate’s Dinner Adventure show. 

Mountain Strings wraps up a successful tour with Folk Dance Ensemble in Tallahassee, Florida.

On Sunday, they attended church in Orlando and then spread joy and uplifted spirits at a heartfelt devotional for youth and young adults. 

To conclude their time in the Southeast, the ensemble had the opportunity to unwind and enjoy the magic and wonder at Walt Disney World. The group investigated the many cultural lands in Epcot and on another day packed in rides, food, and more fun at Hollywood Studios. Spending time at the Disney parks marked the end of several weeks on the road making wonderful memories. 

On May 14, BYU dancers Jade Madison and Braden Duke interview with and prepare to dance for Fox 6 News in Birmingham, Alabama.

BYU Folk Dance Ensemble’s time in the southern United States was truly unforgettable, filled with diverse experiences, magical performances, educational outreach programs, cultural exploration, and beachside relaxation. They were grateful for the opportunity to represent Brigham Young University and meet amazing people while on tour. 

Men from BYU’s International Folk Dance Ensemble dance the bhangra, a Punjabi harvest dance from India.