Encore Spring 2020

International Folk Dance Ensemble

Sharing Folk Music and Dance

BYU folk dancer Robert Rex performs a Welsh dance at the BYU Spectacular! during Homecoming 2019.

As a veteran of domestic and international tours, the BYU International Folk Dance Ensemble was planning tours to Oregon and Europe this year. They are also no strangers to adversity, as this year illustrates. 

The International Folk Dance Ensemble began a weeklong tour to Oregon at the beginning of March. Because the growing concern over COVID-19 along the West Coast was just beginning at that time, the tour departed as planned. The group performed in the cities of Ontario and Sisters; the Ontario show was completely sold out and the Sisters show was also packed. “The performance was incredible and fabulous,” says show presenter Mel Petterson. “We were all so impressed with how the group was not only the performers but [also] the setup and takedown crew. The performers were so positive, humble, and happy!” 

Folk dancers Matthew Kupferer and Kiersten Robertson perform in BYU’s 2019 Christmas Around the World.

Midway through the tour, however, the Oregon government announced a moratorium on public performances, effective immediately, which canceled the rest of the trip for the group. Well-laid plans for workshops and performances in Corvallis, Medford, and Milwaukie had to be set aside. 

As soon as the official declaration was made, the group complied with government orders and returned home. While it was hard on the students, dancer Robert Rex expresses a positive outlook on what they were able to accomplish. “I’m grateful we got to perform what we did,” he says. “It may not have been what we wanted, but the fact that we got to do something and bring a little joy to some people makes it all worth it to me.” 

BYU folk dancer Brandon Carter learns a dance from a student at China’s Minzu University in 2019.

Due to global health concerns, the group will also be unable to tour internationally this year. They were to participate in the CIOFF World Folkloriada festival in Russia and also the World Festival Parade, a folk festival in the Netherlands that takes place every four years. A third folk festival—in Issoire, France—was also in the plans. During the tour, the students were going to share dance styles unique to American heritage and visit various cultural sites throughout their respective locations. These plans will now be reevaluated, with the hope that they can be revived in a future tour to Europe. 

Dancers from the International Folk Dance Ensemble perform the Hindi dance “Avalokiteshvara with a Thousand Arms.”

The International Folk Dance Ensemble poses for a photo while on tour in Oregon in March 2020.