From June 6 through 19, BYU Folk Dance Ensemble will have the opportunity to be on home turf, after having toured to Croatia and Spain during summer 2015. When touring abroad, Folk Dance Ensemble typically focuses on representing American culture to international audiences, but this summer’s performances in Nauvoo will allow the dancers to present other cultures to American audiences. Additionally, the team will get to learn about Nauvoo’s significance in American pioneer history. Seventh-semester member Tanner Long is excited to be a tourist. “We’ll get to develop a deeper appreciation for our own culture as well as the cultures we represent,” he says.
Nine-woman a cappella group Noteworthy, in only its second season as an official BYU performing group, will be visiting Nauvoo from June 20 to July 3. “Nauvoo will open us up for more opportunities,” says Janae Klumpp, Noteworthy member since 2013. “Typically we spend most of our time traveling; we quickly set up and perform, and then we have to leave. But this time we’ll have more opportunities to perform and interact with people.”
No stranger to being main-stage entertainment, Vocal Point will return to Nauvoo from August 1 to 14 for the fifth time in 10 years of touring. Previous tours to Nauvoo included two weeks of nightly performances, outreach programs in neighboring states, and even performances in unique venues such as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, where the curator told the group, “You can sing whatever you want for as long as you want.”
Fame Onstage and Online
Coincidentally, the three BYU groups going to Nauvoo this summer are also the groups gaining the most attention for their recent social media efforts. Each group is active on multiple social media platforms and increases its fan base by posting videos and pictures and interacting with fans.
Vocal Point boasts more than 100,000 subscribers on YouTube, more than 80,000 likes on Facebook, and almost 18,000 followers on Twitter and Instagram combined. First-year Vocal Point member Logan Shelton says everyone in the group collaborates to maintain the social media accounts. “We give feedback to each other before we post,” he says, “and we share special comments from the fans with each other so everyone can see them. It’s so rewarding to read the comments. We perform a lot, and people tell us, ‘Good job!’ but the fans’ comments are personal—things like ‘You really helped me through a hard time’ or that our video turned their whole day around.”
Noteworthy’s “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” music video has more than 7 million views since its release in October 2015. Members of the group knew that increasing the quality and quantity of their music videos would garner attention, but they never expected a video to go viral. “We wanted people to be excited, but we had no idea it would blow up like that,” says Klumpp. “All of our other videos are doing well because of that—they’ve practically doubled in views just because of that one video.”
Folk Dance Ensemble is the newest group to hit the social media scene, attracting hundreds of new followers with the release of “Nagada Nagada Bollywood Dance” on YouTube. This video was the first professional music video Folk Dance Ensemble ever released. Before “Nagada,” they had put only small snippets of their dances or funny skits on the group’s YouTube channel. “[The first videos] were just for us,” says Long, a member of Folk Dance’s social media committee, “but I knew it could lead to something.” Long and the rest of his committee—Cameron King, Orion Howard, and James Skidmore—see the success of groups like Vocal Point and Noteworthy on social media and want to implement more social media usage among folk dancers, alumni, and fans. They recently started encouraging people to use the hashtag #BYUFolkDance to link photos and videos shared on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Long asks, “Who will understand who we are and what we do until they’ve seen it?”