Students can experience the Christmas season on campus this month

A dancer performs during the annual Christmas Around the World concert in 2013. BYU students can choose from different Christmas-themed activities this month, including the 60th annual Christmas Around the World concert. (Todd Wakefield/BYU Photo)

By Luke Johnston

BYU students can look forward to a variety of Christmas-themed events on campus this month, including concerts, a film screening and a virtual Gallery Talk.

Christmas Around the World 

BYU’s Department of Dance will be producing its 60th annual Christmas Around the World concert on Dec. 3 and 4 at the Marriott Center. The department has been working since January on this performance, and there are several different cultures and styles involved including Native American, Scandinavian and African dances.

“BYU’s cultural dance program is very, very unique,” said Jeanette Geslison, artistic director for Christmas Around the World.

Upper university dance departments around North America do not typically include cultural dance in their dance reportoire, she explained. “And so having this cultural dance program here at BYU is a very unique opportunity and I’m not sure where else you might be able to go to see this kind of variety of cultural dance performance.”

This year’s event will be focusing heavily on the Christmas season with performances of Christmas dances and traditions from other cultures, such as the Scandinavian tradition of dancing around the tree. There will also be other learning material and activities for audience members to learn more about each of the cultures and their heritage.

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ screened from Jimmy Stewart’s actual film print

The Harold B. Lee Library will be screening “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Alice Louise Reynolds Auditorium, using an actual film reel owned by the actor Jimmy Stewart. Stewart played the lead George Bailey in the black and white Christmas film. The reel is preserved in the library and will be carefully reconstructed and unrolled to be presented for the Christmas event. 

Audiovisual curator Ben Harry explained that this screening will be showing the 16-millimeter print of Stewart’s home copy he watched at his house on several occasions. Created in 1946, the film will be manually stitched together to work with the projector. Technicians will also be on standby to make sure the film stays intact throughout the screening.

Library public relations manager Roger Layton said that for actual films to be displayed, a courier must unroll three to four reels and the reels must be manually stitched together to run properly on the projector. Then that film will be rolled on a larger reel that will then be used for the screening. 

“It’s a very different experience than watching on your phone, or even at home with a big TV,” Layton said. “And I think it’s interesting for the students from time to time to see how the old systems work, how the film works, and you know how much work it was to show a film.” 

Celebration of Christmas’ choir concert

Hosted almost every year since 1993, The Celebration of Christmas Concert will take place Dec. 3-4 this year over three showings at the de Jong Concert Hall in the HFAC. The event will feature more than 500 singers and instrumentalists from BYU’s choirs and Philharmonic Orchestra, performing a program of traditional carols and Christmas favorites.

“This is, in some ways, our biggest choral event of the year,” BYU Men’s Chorus Director Brent Wells said. “This is a really important concert because we recognize what it means to our audience, but it also is impactful for us to rehearse and prepare and perform this music as our own entry point into the Christmas season.”   

The Celebration of Christmas event will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3. On Dec. 4, there will be a matinee concert at 3 p.m. and an evening performance at 7:30. Wells said tickets for the show are already sold out, but a free web stream of the concert will be available for all three shows.

Virtual Gallery Talk with Brian Kershisnik  

Brian Kershisnik, artist and painter of “Nativity,” will be hosting an online Virtual Gallery Talk that will take place live on Facebook Dec. 7 at 6:30 p.m. The virtual talk will be hosted by the BYU Museum of Art and have a question and answer section for Kershisnik to discuss his work and its influences.

“I don’t believe that metaphor is there to help us understand our lives,” Kershisnik said when asked what students can learn from art. He also talked about how art can teach people something that’s truer than this life and can stretch students into who they actually are.

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