Performing in an Olympic arena is a big deal for any group, and for BYU’s Contemporary Dance Theatre, the privilege came quickly and somewhat in an unexpected manner.
Several months ago, CDT was invited by the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing to participate in its acclaimed educational festival. The festival took place in the Egg, a titanium and glass dome surrounded by an artificial lake that is only accessible by tunnel underneath the lake. The Egg was one of the major Olympic venues in 2008.
“We were the first international university they’ve ever invited to participate,” said Nathan Balser, CDT’s new artistic director. “I think the reason we got the invitation is because of BYU’s long-standing reputation in China.”
The members of CDT have been preparing for the past few months, bringing in several guest choreographers to help them put together their show. The students expressed a lot of excitement at the honor of attending this event.
“It’s completely miraculous that we’re going,” said Heidi Jorgensen, a senior from O’Sallon, Ill., majoring in dance. “Normally, international tours like this are organized years in advance, and the fact that we were invited last minute is a miracle. It’s like we’re meant to go.”
For one of the pieces, several members of CDT collaborated and danced with some of the Bejing Dance Academy dancers. This piece in particular has required immense coordination as the dancers only rehearsed with each other for a few days before performing their show.
“I am really excited to work with the Beijing Dance Academy dancers,” said Cayel Tregagle, a third-year member of CDT, before going. “I’m excited to build friendships and relationships with international students who will probably end up in America at some point.”
Building connections was one of the highlights of the trip for the students who performed for 3,000 audience members. As is custom, the students took gifts to exchange with those they met, leaving a positive impression of BYU.
All of the pieces had to come together quickly to make this tour possible in such short notice. Balser, who has only been teaching at BYU for two years, said it is no coincidence the stars aligned with this particular group of dancers.
“I feel like this is one of the most talented groups I’ve seen at BYU,” Balser said. “I think that they were placed here at the right time for this purpose. There is divine intervention for these students to be a part of this group.”
CDT toured China from Nov. 9 to Nov. 16. Follow their adventures through their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BYUContemporaryDanceTheatre and using the hashtags #byucdt and #cdtchina13