BYU’s Contemporary Dance Theatre showcases pre-India tour Friday


Dancing around with mattresses is not something one expects to see when attending a dance performance. With BYU’s Contemporary Dance Theatre however, this kind of technique is not uncommon.

“You can’t put contemporary dance in a box,” said Pat Debenham, artistic director for BYU’s Contemporary Dance Theatre. “It’s almost undefinable, because stylistically what you see is different for every choreographer.”

However, performing non-traditional techniques means more to these dancers than just goofing off and having fun. Through contemporary dance, choreographers and performers have a chance to share what is important to them.

“That’s what I love about contemporary dance,” said Michelle Nielson, co-director alongside Debenham. “It can be so specifically crafted to what you want to say.”

The company will get a chance to express themselves through dance on Monday, when they travel to India and perform around the country. As preparation for the tour, the group will perform Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Richards Building.

Debenham said he looks forward to performing in India, but that will not be the most rewarding part of the experience.

“The most exciting part is actually going to be the outreach we do and the workshops we do with professionals as well as college students,” Debenham said. “We have a couple of workshops and interactions with leprosy colonies (and) with children.”

Kristin Brown, 21, a dance major who performs with the Contemporary Dance Theatre said that sharing the gospel will be a large part of what they do in India.

“There is such a positive and uplifting spirit that is so much apart of what we do,” Brown said. “It’s all about sharing our light with others, and it really makes performing purposeful and much more rewarding.”

Nielson also said the company’s trip to India will be memorable because of their chance to share the gospel in a country where it is still developing.

“The stake president hosted our group years ago and is hosting us again,” Nielson said. “He is so excited about us coming back, and those are the kinds of things where we just feel like we are a part of something so much bigger and that this serves a purpose.”

Nielson also said that she believes they receive assistance and help because the Lord values performance groups as a unique way to share the gospel.

“The heavens are helping us over there,” Nielson said. “We just watch doors open. The Lord takes care of these groups. These are his precious resources and miracles happen. Dancing with BYU is about sending a message to the world, and that is what we are doing.”

BYU’s Contemporary Dance Theatre will hold their preview, “The Rhythm of Life” on July 20 at 7:30 p.m., in room 169 of the Richards Building. Tickets are $6. For more information visit or call 801-422-4322.

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