By Jordan Imlah
Countless hours of practicing, several months working on the same routines and over a year”s worth of training have paid off for the BYU Ballroom Dance Company as they performed halfway around the world.
The Ballroom Dance Company recently returned from the international Blackpool Dance Festival in Blackpool, England with a first-place title in the modern formation category and a second-place finish in the Latin formation category.
The Blackpool Dance Festival is one of the world”s most famous annual ballroom dance competitions and frequently more than 50 countries regularly participate in events every year, according to a news release.
“The Ballroom Dance Company has been preparing and training for this competition for more than a year,” said Rex Barrington, assistant director of performing arts management.
The Ballroom Dance Company spent one intense week of training and performing in Blackpool and then spent three more weeks traveling and performing in Europe, said Linda Wakefield, ballroom dance faculty member and co-director of the Ballroom Dance Company along with her husband, Lee.
“The tour team consists of 36 dancers … from a wide spectrum of majors,” Wakefield said.
After competing in the dance festival, the Ballroom Dance Company spent three weeks doing a 90-minute public performance called “Light up the Night” in London, Brussels, Paris, Milan, Geneva, Barcelona and Madrid.
“We had sold out crowds in every city and most of them were non-members,” Wakefield said. “Our interaction with the missionaries was productive and seemed to really boost the impression of the church”
During their month-long European tour, the Ballroom Dance Company found time to serve, conduct a fireside every Sunday and do some sightseeing, Barrington said.
“It was a very educational experience,” Barrington said. “It was a good way for the dancers to fully appreciate the culture of each of the countries they were in.”
While in Croydon, England, the dancers took time to give an extra performance to a group of special-needs children and do an impromptu photo-shoot with them, Barrington said.
“The dancers are wonderful ambassadors for BYU and for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” said Denise Kearns, a presenter at Croydon.
“A great experience was had by all,” Wakefield said. “We were treated like royalty, and the audiences were extremely receptive. France and Spain wanted to book us to stay for a whole week in each of their countries next time.”