The BYU Young Ambassadors gave their first of four on-campus performances this week of their show “Heartsongs” on Jan. 14, 2016 in the de Jong Concert Hall. This series of performances will be the group’s last time performing “Heartsongs” at BYU.
Tanner DeWaal, president of the Young Ambassadors company this year, said the groups loves performing at on-campus venues.
“Performing on campus is really just like playing a home game because it’s so much fun,” DeWaal said.
The Young Ambassadors’ “Heartsongs” is an energetic, non-stop show made up of songs representing the many different types of love. One first section, entitled “enchanted love,” includes songs from Disney movies such as “Frozen” and “Hercules.” Other parts of the performance features classic and popular songs about loving life, romantic love, love songs from broadway and family love.
Vice President of the Young Ambassadors, Megan Sackett said she likes how the songs are based on the theme of love.
“You think of anything in life; at the heart of it is love,” Sackett said. “In the end, it’s all about love, and it’s all about loving those around you.”
This is Young Ambassador’s third and last year performing “Heartsongs.” The Young Ambassadors traditionally perform the same show for three years before planning a new show. “Heartsongs” has become “a new show” since it’s last performance on campus according to Randy Booth, artistic director for the Young Ambassadors.
This year, the Young Ambassadors added 13 new numbers to the show, including “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” from Footloose, “Welcome” from Brother Bear, and a contemporary piece, “Thinking Out Loud” from Ed Sheeran. The new “Heartsongs” has different choreography, as well as a new song lineup. This year also brought the Young Ambassadors a new cast, as only five members remain on the current team from last year’s cast, according to Sackett.
Boothe said he thinks the audience will be impressed with the new “Heartsongs.”
“This is a particularly strong cast with some fantastic dancers, and some excellent singers, and a great band. So I’m feeling like audiences are in for a treat,” said Boothe.
At select parts during the performance, voices of people from different stages of life related short experiences and quotes about love and how it affects life and relationships with others.
The Young Ambassadors have presented “Heartsongs” all over the world, including performances in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Other destinations they have visited on tour include Japan, Singapore, Philippines, Taiwan, China, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Swaziland and South Africa. The Young Ambassadors have visited a total of 67 countries in 46 years, since their foundation in 1970.
“It really isn’t so important whether you’re going to Tooele or Beijing; people are going to be warm and welcoming, and we’re going to learn a lot from the people that we meet,” Boothe said.
The Young Ambassadors will be visiting South Africa again this May. Afterward, they will be visiting “new territory” with their first trip to Zimbabwe, according to Boothe. The Young Ambassadors are receiving a weekly culture class from native South Africans to learn about the South African people and culture in preparation for the upcoming tour.
“We’re really excited to take it to the people of South Africa,” DeWaal said. “The Young Ambassadors have had wonderful experiences there, and so we’re really hoping to build upon those relationships that we’ve formed in the past.”
The Young Ambassadors’ time in South Africa will not only be spent performing, according to DeWaal. The group will also be visiting orphanages, meeting youth and young adults and presenting workshops and firesides between performances.
“It just feels good to be a part of making the world a better place one dance step at a time,” Boothe said.
The Young Ambassadors have carried out many acts of service while on their various tours. The group has helped raise money for the Nokor Tep Women’s Hospital in Cambodia, the Community Chest in Singapore and the Sparrow Village in South Africa with their performances. They raised $100,000 for the Bangkok General Hospital, enough to buy three dialysis machines with their performance in Thailand.
“That’s one of the most gratifying opportunities for the group members, to see that their performances are not only making people happy with the show and the music and dancing they share, but that in many, many places around the world, the local church or community leaders are using this opportunity to raise funds for really good causes,” Boothe said.
Scott Hendrickson, a first-year performer with the Young Ambassadors, said serving and performing with the Young Ambassadors makes him feel important in a work.
“One of the goals that I have for my life is just to help people in any sort of way, and I feel like I am definitely fulfilling this when I’m performing with the Young Ambassadors,” Hendrickson said.
One of the Young Ambassadors’ main goals as representatives of BYU is to uplift and inspire others through the arts, according to Hendrickson.
“It is just so much fun to be able to be a representative in that sense, to bring light into peoples’ lives,” Hendrickson said.
DeWaal explained that by the end of each performance, the Young Ambassadors hope to instill a sense of hope and love in their audience.
“We hope that they have a new energy, a new commitment or desire to love more and love in a different way than they have, and we also hope that through our performance, they can see that there is a lot of hope,” DeWaal said.
The Young Ambassadors will be presenting two more evening performances of “Heartsongs” at the de Jong Concert Hall on Friday, Jan. 15 and Saturday, Jan. 16 at 7:30 pm. There will also be a matinee showing Saturday, Jan. 16 at 2 pm. Tickets are available at arts.byu.edu or at the HFAC Ticket Office.
“The Young Ambassadors show this year is a high-energy, high-caliber, high-talented group this year, and of all the years, you won’t want to miss it this year,” Hendrickson said.