BYU Young DanceMakers on stage

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The BYU Department of Dance presented an Evening of Dance with the BYU Young DanceMakers in “Gifts from My Father” Friday and Saturday, May 8–9.

Ari Davis
YoungDance Makers wait backstage before their performance in the BYU HFAC. (Maddi Dayton)

“I love hearing the pitter-patter of their bare feet; maybe it’s a mom thing,” said Rachel Rubow. Rubow is the mother of a dancer who performed at BYU’s Evening of Dance this last weekend.

Young DanceMakers is the performing children’s company from BYU’s Children and Teens’ Creative Dance Program. The company includes more than 140 dancers between the ages of 6–18.

Creative Dance Program director Kathleen Sheffield began the program with a welcome to the audience and shared the quote of a young dancer from behind the curtain: “Do you think it’s scarier to perform for your family?”

“Gifts from My Father” included various dance numbers that celebrated the gifts of anticipation, imagination, seasons, sunshine, friendship, joy, agency, sound, hope, the universe, truth and light, relationships, God’s Son and the gift of you.

The number “The Gift of Truth and Light” was an all-male performance that carried LDS Church themes. It included dance referencing Joseph Smith’s First Vision, Latter-day Saint missionaries and The Salt Lake Temple. “Piney Woods/Susquehanna,” “Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning” and “Come to Zion” accompanied this number.

“I do this because it’s part of my heart,” BYU Children’s Creative Dance faculty member Debra Gibbons said, “We don’t live close, we live in Cedar Hills, and it is worth the drive. We come down three times a week between our classes and my teaching, and it is worth it, because this program is so amazing.” Gibbons is also a choreographer of “The Gifts of Relationships.”

When asked why her children participate in BYU’s program over others available, Gibbons said, “Because the music is always beautiful and appropriate. The costumes are always appropriate and covering, the movement is designed partially by the kids, partially by us. We work together on that to develop our movement, but it’s appropriate for children.”

The BYU Children and Teens’ Creative Dance Program offers weekly classes for children ages 3–18 during the months of September–May in the Richards Building on BYU campus. Performers join the Young DanceMakers company by invitation only and practice 2–3 hours per week.

Kirsten Rubow, 14, has been dancing with the BYU dance program for four years and washed windows during the summer to be able to pay for her own dance classes to perform this year.

“Dancing expresses things you can’t exactly put into words, and it’s fun, and you get to be with friends,” Kristen said.

Rachel Rubow said dance benefits her daughter in more than one way.

“One of the things that people don’t know about her is that this is a little terrifying for her, and she has anxiety,” Rubow said, “So for her this is a huge thing.”

Kristen Rubow has a strategy for dealing with her anxiety and dancing.

“I breathe,” Kristen said, “I breath in and hold it for a little bit and breath out. It doesn’t matter what other people think of you.”

The BYU Fine Arts ticket office stated most tickets had been sold to the performance and that the audience was mostly comprised of proud parents, grandparents and other supporting family members.

The age requirement to attend BYU Fine Art events was lowered for this performance to admit children 3 years of age and older.

BYU Young DanceMakers will next perform “Dancepedia” May 6 and 7, 2016.

More information about BYU Children and Teens’ Creative Dance Program can be found at dancecamps.byu.edu.

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