BYU ballroom dancer finds similar values in China

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Ballroom dance team Allie Spinder and her husband, Kyle, perform in the BYU Spectacular in Xi’an, China. (Steve Fidel)

Professional ballroom dancer Allie Spinder recently traveled to China to perform in the BYU Spectacular. Spinder, a BYU graduate, said she felt honored to represent the university again.

Spinder’s childhood and background in dance helped prepare her for the monumental tour in China, she said.

“I grew up in a family with three siblings who have disabilities,” she said, “so I feel like I have learned a lot from a young age how to accept everyone and that everyone deserves to be loved.”

Spinder and her husband, Kyle, became professional ballroom dancers after graduating from BYU. She said felt she could express herself fully as a dancer, showing both her passionate and caring side on the dance floor.

“Any time I go out on the stage to perform, I’m presenting myself and the things that I’ve learned and who I am as part of that performance,” Spinder said.

After touring in Europe as a ballroom dancer, Spinder had an unexpected opportunity when BYU invited her and her husband to dance in the BYU Spectacular.

The BYU Spectacular included eight performing groups from BYU, including Living Legends and Young Ambassadors. A total of 160 performers joined the tour, plus Spinder and her husband. “Any time I get to perform, I feel blessed. But to be able to perform for a culture and a people that I’ve never actually met before until this trip — it’s an honor,” she said.

Spinder said her time in China helped her see that the Chinese value the same things that she does. When she visited the Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an, a tour guide wrote her name in Chinese, and she learned that her last name translates to mean three words: talented, smart and moral. Spinder said felt an instant connection to the culture when she connected with the Chinese translation of her last name.

“I feel like they really encompassed my life, and they really valued my morals and the way that I choose to live my everyday life. But how grateful I am that I was blessed to be a talented dancer and also get a great education,” Spinder said.

Spinder feels that the BYU Spectacular was an important step for BYU in finding common ground with China.

“What’s amazing about this show is it’s showing how alike we are,” Spinder said. “I think right now the Chinese people sense a difference and maybe even a divide between our two countries, but yet this show is bringing this great merge,” she said.

Despite the cultural differences between the U.S. and China, BYU Spectacular performers said they found common ground through dance and music while on the tour.

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