‘Christmas Around the World’ brings all nations together

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The annual “Christmas Around the World” event discovers hope, joy and Christmas spirit through this year’s theme, “See the Wonder,” Dec. 6-7 in the Marriott Center.

Folk Dancers dance in "Christmas Around the World," which will return to the stage Dec. 6-7 in the Marriott Center with "See the Wonder." (Photo courtesy by BYU Photo)
Folk Dancers dance in “Christmas Around the World,” which will return to the stage Dec. 6-7 in the Marriott Center with “See the Wonder.” (Photo courtesy by BYU Photo)

Jenette Geslison, artistic director of “Christmas Around the World,” said she added storytelling elements to the show so audiences can relate to the story and bring something home. “See the Wonder” tells a story of a photographer who just returns from the war and loses faith in humanity. The photographer rediscovers his hope through seeing dancers from different nations in the world performing together.

“I hope the audiences will come to the show and enjoy the kickoff of Christmas season,” Geslison said. “They’re able to come, feel the Christmas spirit and also see a bright future through the performances of all talented dancers.”

Will Farnbach, a senior from West Linn, Ore., said Geslison constructs the stage in the “tennis court” style where the dancers perform on the two short sides and audiences sit on the two long sides.

“Geslison is incredibly talented, and she just has a great vision for what she’s going to do,” Farnbach said. “You know having to do numbers in the tabletop setting is a very different thing when the audience is just ahead of you. And she sees all these things even before we dance.”

Geslison, faculty of the BYU Department of Dance, said this is her third year as artistic director, but she has been involved in the production of “Christmas Around the World” since 1987 when she was a student.

“’Christmas Around the World’ is one of the longest-running BYU Christmas productions,” Geslison said. “It’s been 58 years in the run. And so it’s a wonderful Christmas tradition here at the university.”

This year, “Christmas Around the World” features more than 200 cast members from the International Folk Dance Ensemble, 200 cloggers from the Wasatch Front, the BYU Russian Choir and Divya Narayanan, an Indian dancer.

“It was fun to get to know so many people,” said Mikayla Ellison, a cast member of “Christmas Around the World.”

Ellison, a human development major from Frisco, Texas, said she has performed for “Christmas Around the World” for five years.

“It’s my favorite thing that I get to do,” Ellison said. “We get to perform a lot around Utah, and we even go on tours to different places. But one of my favorite things is ‘Christmas Around the World.’ It’s the biggest production that we put on. For folk dance shows, it’s the one to come to.”

Farnbach said thousands of people come to the show every year.

“‘Christmas Around the World’ should be a tradition in every family because it speaks to both your physical nature and your spiritual nature,” Farnbach said. “And we hope that it becomes something that every year, you and your family come back and say, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna see it again because it’s going to be different. It’s going to be fantastic.’ It’s also the real message of Christmas. You know, no Santa Claus, no reindeers but about love and mutual respect.”

“Christmas Around the World” will take place Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6–7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Marriott Center. There will also be a Saturday matinée show at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10–$15 and can be purchased at the Fine Arts Ticket Office, (801) 422-2981, or at byuarts.com/tickets.

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