World of Dance performers share their motivation

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Jray Kuhn and other members of the Young Ambassadors rehearse for their World of Dance performance. World of Dance is an annual showcase for BYU student performers. (Molly Zuniga)

Behind the lights and glam of BYU’s World of Dance team are hardworking students who dedicate countless hours of preparation for the Department of Dance’s annual opening showcase.

This year’s World of Dance takes place from Sept. 21-23. The performances are an opportunity for BYU’s performing and touring companies in the dance department to showcase their skills and continue a 55-year tradition.

Because of the ongoing construction of the new Arts Building, this year’s performances will be held in the Marriott Center and at the Browning Center on Weber State University’s campus.

The World of Dance features students from BYU’s Ballroom Dance Company, Contemporary Dance Theatre, International Folk Dance Ensemble, Living Legends, Theatre Ballet and Young Ambassadors. 

Isabella Mudrick, a member of the Theatre Ballet Studio Company performing in this weekend’s show, is excited to share her love of performing with audiences.

Isabella Mudrick rehearses for the World of Dance performance. Mudrick is a member of the Theatre Ballet Dance Company. (Molly Zuniga)

“Rehearsing is great and it’s awesome to grow, but the real reward is when you get to perform,” Mudrick said.

In addition to being full-time students, many student performers also work 15 to 20 hours a week and put in more than 20 hours of weekly practice. 

Kamailelani Grace, a senior member of Living Legends, said many dancers put in additional practice hours outside of scheduled rehearsals in order to be prepared for performances.

“In addition to our Monday, Wednesday and Friday practices, I know for a fact all of us are practicing on our own time … even if that means thinking about the song, having to memorize lyrics, or thinking about the facials we are doing — it should always be on everyone’s mind,” Grace said. “I would say anytime they’re not sleeping, they’re thinking about it, just so they know that their dancing is from the heart, not just the mind.” 

For many student dancers, participating in these performing groups is not only about them, but also about future generations.

“Being able to perpetuate my culture, even if I’m not there, makes it much more significant and special. I think about the past, the present and the future and that is my motivation to keep on doing it,” Grace said. 

Kamailelani Grace rehearses for the Living Legends performance. According to Grace, “dancing is from the heart, not just the mind.” (Molly Zuniga)

Jray Kuhn, a member of Young Ambassadors, expressed how being a multicultural student performer is worth the sacrifice. He said representation matters.

“It is something that future students need … I don’t want any kids to feel there isn’t a place for them,” Kuhn said.

All students in their respective groups expressed love, awe and appreciation for each other and their different styles.

“I just love World of Dance because you get an opportunity to see all the different styles all at once and right next to each other,” Mudrick said. “I think it really is valuable to see how diverse the styles are. Everyone is so talented and it’s an incredible show.”

Although student performers have busy schedules, they consider participating in these dance groups a priority, and they are proud to be a part of creating something beautiful they can show the world. 

Tickets for World of Dance performances can be purchased on the department of dance’s website.

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