Encore Fall 2023

American Folk Dance Ensemble

Stepping into Tradition

Spencer Waddell and Clara Jamison of the Folk Dance Ensemble perform a traditional Hungarian csárdás at the Danube Carnival in Hungary.

The winter of 2023 was one of Utah’s longest on record. Luckily for members of the BYU Folk Dance Ensemble, they had the promise of adventures in Hungary, Austria, and Czechia to look forward to. Following their departure on June 7, the Folk Dance Ensemble spent three weeks participating in two of the most renowned folk dance festivals, enjoying delicious foods, and making new friends.

The group’s first stop was the 28th annual Danube Carnival, where the ensemble joined some of Hungary’s best dancers and musicians as one of three international performing groups. Although their performance schedule was strenuous, the BYU group treasured the opportunity to share traditional American dances with enthusiastic audiences. One member of the ensemble says, “My greatest satisfaction came from the relationships I was able to make with members of the other ensembles. I don’t think it would have been enough just to perform with them—opportunities to teach other dances, learn from them, and have fun together were extremely valuable.” After several busy days at the carnival, the ensemble traveled to Vienna and spent the weekend exploring the famous city, enjoying a church service, and attending a fantastic concert by the well-known Schönbrunn Palace Orchestra.

The Folk Dance Ensemble waves to the audience at the open-air-theater on Margaret Island in Budapest, Hungary.

Following their time in Vienna, the group departed for their second festival: the Strážnice International Folklore Festival, known for being the second-oldest folklore festival in Czechia. In addition to performing, the group spent their last week in Europe participating in community outreaches. They performed for schools and for senior centers, as well as in a Catholic mass alongside dance and music groups from South Korea, Hungary, and the Netherlands. To celebrate the end of a demanding yet successful tour, the Folk Dance Ensemble explored Prague—walking famed cobblestone streets, touring the castle district, and enjoying the rich history of the city—before their long flight back to Utah.

Mountain Strings and the Folk Dance Ensemble gather in front of St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest.

BYU dancers Remington Comp and Janelle Wilson perform “Boot Kickin’” for an audience of elementary students in Czechia.