BYU touring dance companies Ballroom Dance Company, Contemporary Dance Theatre, International Folk Dance Ensemble, Living Legend and Theatre Ballet said their last goodbye to the de Jong Concert hall on Sept. 17 after 54 years of performing World of Dance there.
BYU announced plans to tear down the Harris Fine Arts Center and build a new arts building. Until the new building is finished, the World of Dance showcase will take place at local guest venues.
BYU’s “World of Dance” gives audiences the opportunity to witness the diverse cultures and variety of dances the world has to offer. Living Legends Artistic Director Jamie Wood said the choreography process starts first with research and then bringing in specialists in the culture and dance style to make sure they are representing them well.
“My hope for audiences when they watch World of Dance is to realize what a rich dance experience there is in the world. And how blessed we are at BYU that we get to explore so much of it,” Wood said.
Wood said it is an honor to have all the companies perform the last semester the de Jong Concert Hall is operating, but she is also excited to see what happens to World of Dance afterward.
Young Ambassadors performer Sarah Sun said she has many memories in the HFAC and it is special to her that she is able to have a concrete experience in the de Jong Concert Hall before it disappears forever.
“I feel like the impact that dance has on people is kind of hard to quantify, but when you are moved by a really good piece of art, you feel it deep in your soul,” Sun said. “So, I think something that’s really cool about this year’s performance is when we’re in this historic space, we can know that the reason why we’re making history is because of the way that piece of history has shaped us in that moment.”
Eunseo Gil, a first time audience member, said the performances helped her discover that there were more subsections in dance and that a dancer required more strength and physical activity than she had thought. She said their flexibility and the male dancers’ ability to lift up the other dancers surprised her.
Each company showcased three different performances throughout the program, which allowed guests to witness a sneak peek of what each performing company is preparing for the season. Gil said she enjoyed the International Folk Dance Ensemble performances because of their engagement with the audience and positive energy.
“I think the power of the arts lies in its ability to communicate things that words are inadequate for,” Sun said. “And when I see these people who have put so much time and thought into preparing their numbers share the light that is in them on that stage, I feel like it captures the essence of what it means to be unified as children of God.”