Young Ambassadors and Ballroom Dance Company did more than just take the outdoor stage in Nauvoo, Illinois, this year. The groups performed in a variety of venues and served the people in neighboring communities, where they delivered spontaneous performances in parks, engaged in outreaches, and toured historic sights.
On the first Saturday of tour, Young Ambassadors went to Hannibal, Missouri, to join in a citywide cleanup, for which the group received a ceremonial key to the city. Ballroom Dance Company went to Fort Madison, Iowa, where they removed weeds and cleaned store windows and sidewalks. They also planted fresh flowers in pots with the Carthage Kiwanis Club in Carthage, Illinois. “This tour was a wonderful reminder for us that we can serve anywhere we go,” says Young Ambassadors director Randy Boothe.
As part of an outreach program, Young Ambassadors had a memorable encounter teaching music and performing to special-needs children. They spent time talking and getting to know the children one on one. “It was an incredible thing to see the joy in their eyes of having people invest their time in them and tell them that they are loved,” says Young Ambassadors performer Matthew Davies.
Both groups enjoyed their time singing and dancing under the stars at the Nauvoo Outdoor Stage. The open-air venue brought an unexpected set of challenges to the show. “When we were performing, I saw a beetle land on a girl’s forehead, but she just kept singing,” says Davies. “It was hard tomaintain composure.”
Young Ambassadors’ upbeat tunes also filled the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, a care facility, and city parks.
Ballroom Dance Company’s performances had dance numbers to please all crowds, including “MicTendo II,” a black-light number inspired by Pac-Man, Mario Kart, and Angry Birds that was popular with the children. Another crowd-pleaser was a 1920s-style number featuring a Charlie Chaplin character. The starting couple also changed the humorous introduction every night, going so far as to getting people from the audience to dance.
The company’s Viennese waltz medley, “The Impossible Dream,” served as the grand finale. It was originally choreographed by Roy Mavor when codirectors Lee and Linda Wakefield were student performers on the team. The Wakefields performed the number to win the cabaret national championship many years ago. This 2015 tour was the Wakefields’ last as codirectors of Ballroom Dance Company, so they based the medley on this inspiring piece. In the middle of the dance, their son Todd Wakefield, who was also on his last tour as a student performer, and his partner performed the solo. “I was in their shoes doing what had been their moment, and it was incredible,” says Todd Wakefield. “I felt like I was honoring my parents.”
At the end of Ballroom Dance Company’s final show, the team lit sparklers and surprised the Wakefields with a collection of money to send them on a retirement trip. “We started hugging and crying—and not because it was sad, but because it had been a good year,” says Ballroom Dance member Devri Lambright. “[Lee and Linda Wakefield] have made a legacy for BYU.”