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BYU folk dancers honor "Festival of Light" during this year's "Christmas Around the World"

Dec. 2-3 at the Marriott Center

Celebrating the light that emanates from all cultures around the world during the holiday season, Brigham Young University’s International Folk Dance Ensemble will present its annual “Christmas Around the World” Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2-3, at 7:30 p.m. in the Marriott Center.

The ensemble will also offer a matinee performance Saturday, Dec. 3, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are available through the Marriott Center Ticket Office at (801) 422-BYU1 or 1-800-322-BYU1. Performances are $10 for Friday and Saturday evenings and $8 for the Saturday matinee.

Titled “Festival of Light,” the concert will begin with more than 200 performers, dressed in different traditional clothing from around the world, filling the stage and singing “Sto Mi E Milo,” a folk song depicting everyday life in Macedonia, that is a favorite of the BYU dancers.

Ed Austin, artistic director, said the opening number is designed to help the audience feel the spirit of the world’s diverse cultures.

“As we present these cultures, we’re not just dancing,” Austin said. “We are representing these people from all over the world and the light we see in them, and portraying it to the audience.”

The concert is ultimately a celebration of culture during this important time of year when many hearts and minds turn to Christ.

“Light has such an important meaning for those of us who celebrate the birth of the Savior,” Austin added. “He is the Light of the world.”

With new choreography featuring the traditions of Romania, Russia, India and Ukraine, the ensemble will also welcome more than 100 Samoan young adults, directed by Fili and Pania Sagapolutele, who will perform traditional and fire-knife dances.

Along with the new choreography, the ensemble will also entertain audiences with many favorites from Ireland, Lithuania, Mexico, Hungary, Puerto Rico, Ukraine and the United States.

As part of the bicentennial celebration of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s birth, the group will pay tribute to him by representing the light he brought back into the world.

The first of all BYU performing groups to travel abroad, the International Folk Dance Ensemble will tour Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Quebec this spring, as well as participate in a prestigious folk dance festival in Montreal.

For more information, contact Ed Austin at (801) 422-3384.

Writer: Brian Rust

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